Any naysayers from Dartmouth or otherwise who ever called Harvard women's hockey a one-line team should be eating their words this week.
On Wednesday night in Providence, No. 2 Brown shut down the Crimson's top line for the first two periods but still trailed 2-1.
The No. 1 cause for the pseudo-discrepancy: sophomore forward Tracy Catlin.
"Tracy Catlin's doing an awesome job," Harvard Coach Katey Stone said. "She's playing really gritty. She's having fun, she's got a lot of confidence, and she's going as fast as she can."
Catlin's first big play came early in the second period. As the Brown defense transitioned into the neutral zone, Catlin smartly banked the puck off the boards against the flow of traffic. A fortuitous bounce brought the puck behind the Brown defense and onto the stick of co-captain Angie Francisco just outside the blueline.
The play led to Harvard's first goal; Francisco does not waste clean breakaways.
The Crimson failed to hold the lead for even a minute, but Catlin would put Harvard back on top again.
Halfway through the second period, Catlin crossed into the Bears' zone with Francisco on her right on an odd-man rush. As a Brown defender played her to pass and backed off, Catlin moved into range and slipped a backhand past the Bear goaltender.
"The goalie thought I was going to pass it, so the backhand caught her by surprise," Catlin said. "Actually I was still debating whether to pass or shoot it."
Even after Harvard's 4-1 win over Brown, Catlin's week was not done. Against Cornell she scored the goal that gave Harvard the lead for good. Midway through the first period, Catlin and Francisco worked the two-on-one to perfection, with Catlin getting the top-shelf finish. That goal was the difference until Botterill added a pair two periods later. Harvard rolled to a 3-1 win.
Catlin now has four goals and two assists on this season--almost matching her total of five goals and three assists from her freshman year.
"[Catlin's] been the biggest surprise of the season for us," Stone said. "She has stepped up her game tremendously."
After beating No. 4 St. Lawrence on the road on Sunday, Harvard (8-3, 8-1 ECAC) now stands a point behind No.1 Dartmouth (8-0-1, 8-0-1) in the ECAC Standings. Although it may sound like some farfetched fiction, there is another Catlin that dresses in Green instead of Crimson and lives out in the wilderness of New Hampshire--Tracy's twin sister Amy.
Round one of the rivalry between the sisters' schools went to Dartmouth on the day of The Game, but the improved play of Tracy Catlin bodes well for Harvard's chances of gaining its revenge on the Big Green.