WATERVILLE — It’s been a season in which the Colby College women’s hockey team has seemingly reached new highs with every game.

Another one was reached in the Mules’ latest contest — one that will go down as an all-timer in tournament history.

Colby earned its first-ever NCAA Division III tournament victory Wednesday with a 5-2 win over Norwich at Alfond Athletic Center. The win kept alive the winningest season in program history for the Mules, who advanced to face Amherst in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“This one is pretty high up there,” said Colby head coach Holley Tyng. “It’s just incredibly special to do it with this team and this group of seniors. It’s a group that makes coming to the rink every day so outstanding, and it’s great to experience it with them.”

Colby (18-7) wasted almost no time taking the lead, pulling ahead after just 48 seconds through Courtney Schumacher. Assisted by Audrey Shirer, the freshman fired a blistering slap shot past Norwich goaltender Leocadia Clark to put the Mules ahead inside a minute.

“I didn’t even see it go in at first, but that was a great play by Audrey to get the puck to the middle,” Schumacher said. “Getting that early was a great way to start off the game. Getting that early momentum made everyone really excited, and I think that really helped us start off right.”


At 14:58 in the first, Colby made it 2-0 as Schumacher assisted Breanna Studley, who scored while falling to the ice to double the Mules’ advantage. No sooner than the scoring for that goal was announced, Stephanie Lane found the net for Colby on an assist from Abby Wick and Bri Michaud-Nolan to chase Clark from the game.

Colby College goalie Paige Bolyard (32) tries to cover the puck during an NCAA Division III first round game against Norwich University on Wednesday night in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The second period was largely uneventful before Michaud-Nolan scored at 18:59 on an assist from Meg Rittenhouse to make the score 4-0. Rittenhouse then scored the fifth and final goal for Colby at 8:33 in the second before Ingrid Holstad-Berge and Olivia Boyer added consolation goals for Norwich (19-8-2).

Home ice, Tyng and Michaud-Nolan said, was important for a Colby team that entered Sunday’s selection show unsure where it would be playing in the tournament. It was a situation that was perhaps unexpected for the Mules, who received an at-large bid after falling to Hamilton in Friday’s NESCAC semifinals.

“Just getting the bid was awesome, and being able to host was incredibly special,” Tyng said. “I think playing at home was something that gave us a huge boost. You have the fans behind you, and you also have the familiarity of the setting and knowing the boards and the glass and how the rink plays.”

The tournament bid was the second in a row for Colby, which had lost to Plattsburgh State in the opening game of last year’s DIII tourney after winning 16 games, then a program record. The Mules broke that record this year after topping Trinity in the NESCAC quarterfinals Feb. 26 for their 17th victory.

It’s a big moment for a program that, just six years ago, was in the doldrums of the NESCAC. In Tyng’s first year as head coach in 2016-17, Colby started 0-19-3 before winning its final two games. The Mules’ rise saw the program’s first national ranking in 2019-20, first tournament appearance last year and, now, their first tourney win.


“I’ve been so lucky to be part of this program and watch it grow and grow over the past few years,” said Michaud-Nolan, a senior from Wells. “We’re just getting better and better each year. It seems like we’re always breaking new records, which is exciting. It’s great to have such a great team culture to bring in the younger girls.”

Colby College’s Sophia Kennedy (9) takes a shot on Norwich University goalie Leocadia Clark (31) as defenseman Mikah Baptiste closes in during an NCAA Division III first round game Wednesday night in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Division III quarterfinals will feature four NESCAC teams: Colby, Amherst, Hamilton and Middlebury. It’s a testament to just how tough the league has been this year, and going up against that slate, Michaud-Nolan said, has helped make the Mules tougher.

“It just goes to show that this league is really great and really hard to play in,” Michaud-Nolan said. “Everything is pretty evenly matched whenever you see any two teams on any given weekend. It helps make you better, and it’s great to see (the league) finally getting the recognition it deserves.”

At the top of that league is Amherst (24-3), which is also the No. 1 team in the country. The Mammoths won both the NESCAC regular season and conference tournament championships this season, most recently defeating Hamilton 5-0 in the tourney final.

Colby, though, did give Amherst one of its three defeats on the year back on Feb. 4. It’s something the Mules are confident they can do again at 3 p.m. Saturday in Amherst, especially if they can stick to what worked for them Wednesday night.

“We just have to play our game,” Schumacher said. “We played our game tonight and really stuck to what we know. I think we have a great chance against Amherst if we do that and come ready to play.”

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