How many ways can you say blowout?
There are only so many words you can use to describe a decisive win. And when you try to be gracious to the losers that limits your vocabulary even more.
But when the Harvard women's ice hockey team decimated Yale 9-1 and Middlebury 7-0 to improve its record to 3-2-1 Ivy (7-4-1 overall) this past weekend, the team added a few more definitions of blowout to the proverbial sports dictionary.
Granted, neither of the Crimson's victims is a perennial power, but the women expected some opposition.
"We were expecting to beat Yale," sophomore Stacy Kellogg said. "The last time we played them we won 9-1 so we knew what to expect. But we were expecting a challenge from Middlebury."
Not really knowing what to expect from the Panthers, the Crimson took to the ice prepared for a tough fight. The game was much closer and faster paced than the score indicated, but the Harvard had no difficulty handling Middlebury.
Leading off the scoring for the Crimson, junior Diana Clark netted her second goal for the weekend (sixth for the season) at 6:17 in the first period. Then the scoring power of freshman A.J. Mleczko kicked in as she tallied the next three goals to assure her at least a hat trick in the game..
"We had no idea what to expect from Middlebury," Mleczko said. "I knew some people on the team from high school who are really good so I was surprised at what happened in the game. But we played a lot better on Sunday and it was a much better, faster paced game."
To round off the scoring for the Crimson, Kellogg added two more goals and Mleczko tallied her fourth. Kellogg finished the weekend with 10 points and Mleczko finished with nine to lead the team.
The rookie's performance brought her totals to 22 goals and 14 assists, the highest on a team of prolific scorers.
Harvard Coach John Dooley had every right to be proud of his team as he saw recently changed lines come together, young players taking charge and beautiful passing running circles around opposing defenders. Against Yale, the team had to step up a notch when co-captain Joey Alissi suffered a concussion while warming up.
Yet Dooley simply changed around the lines again and the team filled the large gap left by its captain, the team's second leading scorer.
"Our play is starting to come together," Dooley said. "One particular goal stands out this weekend which involved outstanding passes and plays. It combined about everybody on the ice. Everyone really came together for the goal."
Despite the one-sided nature of the contest against Yale, it provided Harvard a chance to test the new line changes in a non-threatening situation, and every player got a chance to enjoy lots of time on the ice.
"Over the last week we've had lots of line changes," Clark said. "It was nice that they worked out this weekend. The best thing about the Yale game was that we came out strong. We usually start slow but we came right out and scored five goals in the first."
Clark had a lot to do with her team's quick start by scoring the first goal in both games.
Now the team gets a well-deserved break from hockey to concentrate on exams. After exams though, the team jumps right back into the thick of it with a long road stand against some of the toughest teams in the division. In February, the Crimson also must contend for the Beanpot.
"It was fortunate for us to have had these less intense games now because of exams etc.," junior netminder Erin Villiotte said. "Also because we have a tough schedule ahead of us."