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Jenna Cunningham and James Mello Named Dartmouth Athletes of the Week

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Athlete of the Week Archive

Each week, will spotlight two outstanding student-athletes - one male, one female - as Dartmouth's Athletes of the Week. Student-athletes may be chosen based upon their efforts both on and off the field of competition.

Clutch performances on the ice helped the Big Green skaters snap skids, led by the play of Jenna Cunningham (Medicine Hat, Alta.) and James Mello (Rehoboth, Mass.), Dartmouth Athletes of the Week . Cunningham scored a career-high four goals in a blowout of Union for women's hockey's first win in eight games while Mello got the nod in goal this weekend, earning a big 3-1 win over Union.

Dartmouth Female Athlete of the Week:
Jenna Cunningham (Medicine Hat, Alta.), Women's Hockey, Forward,
Senior co-captain Jenna Cunningham (Medicine Hat, Alta.) led the way for the Big Green against Union with a career-high four goals in an 8-1 win over the Dutchwomen. Dartmouth got its first win in 2010 and snapped a five-game skid, which featured three losses by just one goal. Cunningham is third on the team in points with 21. She is second in goals with 14 and leads the team with four goals on the man advantage. Cunningham also keeps climbing the all-time points list and has 115 points for 22nd all-time in Dartmouth history and is one of 18 skaters to reach 50 goals and 50 assists in a career.

The team has been on a rough stretch lately, what was the team's attitude after you dropped the losing streak?
The team was on such a high after winning against Union on Saturday, especially because we have been in a lot of the games that we lost and ended up just coming up short. So we were pretty excited about the win.

When do you know that it's your night and the possibility of scoring not just a hat trick, but four goals?
I don't think I really knew that I was going to score a hat trick or four goals. Some nights the puck just seems to find your stick and it just so happened that, that night happened to be when we played Union.

The team is in the middle of eight straight home games. In a couple of weeks, will it take some adjusting to go back on the road?
I think preparation for road games are always a little bit different, but this late in the season I don't think that there will be a lot of adjustment needed.

Going into this week's big games against Boston College and Harvard, how do you carry the success of Saturday into these two tough contests?
I think we really focus on what things we did right against Union and even RPI for that matter and continue to build off of them. One of the biggest things we will take into the contests this week is confidence. We saw that we are capable of scoring goals and taking a lead and keeping it. I think that is going to be important for us to remember this week when we go ahead and play BC and Harvard.

Dartmouth Male Athlete of the Week:
James Mello (Rehoboth, Mass.), Men's Hockey, Goaltender, Sophomore

James Mello (Rehoboth, Mass.) earned his first collegiate win with a career-high 39 saves on Jan. 23 over league-leading #13 Union. Mello backstopped the Big Green to its fifth win of the season as Dartmouth is looking get things going during the second half of its season. Mello has appeared in five total games this year and leads the squad with a 1.74 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.

Now that you've had some time to think about, how does it feel to get your first collegiate win?
I couldn't be more excited about it. It was my first collegiate win so it will always be one to remember. Beating the first place team was just icing on the cake. Of course I still wish I could have stopped the one that got by me.

We've started the second half of the season. How does it feel that your play in net may have helped jump-start something for the year?
It's a great feeling to be able to get in and contribute to the team. It seems like we found another gear this past weekend that we realized we could play more consistently. We still have a lot of league games remaining on the schedule. It will be exciting to see what noise we can make this second half.

You played behind Jody O'Neill last season and now this season you've emerged on your own. Do you feel pressure on you or do you just get out there and play and let it all work itself out?
Goalie can be one of the most stressful and pressured positions I can think of in sports. It is similar to a pitcher in baseball who has the ability to make or break a game. Pressure is good to put on yourself in a healthy quantity, I feel it brings the best out of people. Too much pressure can make you afraid to just play the game. I try to put most of it aside, just play and let it work itself out.

How hard has it been to keep your head up and fight through this season?
This year hasn't gone quite the way we had planned but that's just the way it goes sometimes. There have been plenty of games where the puck just didn't bounce our way and it always seemed to hurt us. We are a great team that has yet to fully tap into our potential on a consistent basis. We have showed signs of it all year just not as consistently as we would like. With the group of guys we have it's easy to remain positive and expect more of ourselves.