Boe Flies Below Radar to Anchor Crimson’s Stingy Defensive Effort

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—For all the discussion that went on during the post-game press conference after Harvard’s 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence last night, one name in particular didn’t pop up as much as you might expect.

Ali Boe.

Yesterday wasn’t the exception, either. In fact, it represented a common trend in the attention, or lack thereof, the Crimson’s goaltending has received all season long.

On a team stacked with offensive threats, the best defenseman in the world and one of the most solid supporting casts in the nation, Boe’s contribution to the team seems to have been lost in the shuffle—by everyone but her coaches and teammates.

But neither Harvard nor Boe mind the lack of attention she receives around the nation.

“It’s okay,” Crimson coach Katey Stone said. “She’s a sleeping giant. I don’t care if anybody else notices. We notice and that’s all that matters.”

In fact, Stone had just one word to describe Boe’s goaltending.

“Superb.”

Co-captain Angela Ruggiero jumped in to break the awkward silence that followed, enthusiastically adding, “I second that!”

But Stone’s one-word description of Boe’s efforts was appropriate because Harvard’s goalie’s efforts seemed beyond words at times.

With about six minutes remaining in the second period and St. Lawrence on the power play, Sara Simard slid a pass across the ice to Rebecca Russell—the Saints’ leading scorer in Gina Kingsbury’s absence—who found herself all alone against Boe on the left side of the ice.

Russell skated in by herself, looking for a spot to beat Boe.

She fired a wrister toward the right side of the net at point-blank range, but Boe leaned to her left and came up with a huge glove save as Russell skated away, shaking her head in disappointment after being denied on a rare Saints opportunity to score.

How would Stone describe the huge save on the man-down?

“Superb,” the coach coolly responded again, her head in her hand, unfazed by the type of steady, stellar play that has marked Boe all year long but has gone largely unrecognized by many opponents and observers throughout the year.

Boe, one of her own harshest critics, didn’t see anything particularly out of the ordinary in her play, either.

“I just kind of slid across and luckily it found my glove,” she said. “Nothing special.”

The way Boe described the play, you might get the impression that her glove miraculously opened and moved at lightning speed of its own volition, and catching the puck was sheer coincidence or accident, not something she had control over.

Don’t be fooled.

As St. Lawrence coach Paul Flanagan explained when asked about the big save “that goalie” made on the power play, Boe’s stop on Russell knocked the wind right out of the St. Lawrence.

“That was a huge turning point in the game,” Flanagan said. “That [play] was our break. You play a game like that where you’re not getting a ton of chances—here’s our break.

“It’s very deflating from an offensive perspective when you can’t bury one [of those shots] or even generate a lot of good chances. So that was the turning point for sure.”

Nor was it the only opportunity on which the Saints couldn’t convert.

“A couple of times the puck hopped over a stick,” Flanagan said.

“And when [Boe] did make the big save you almost feel, ‘Oh, that’s the one we needed to get us back in there,’ and could have really energized us at the time.”

With five minutes left in the game, St. Lawrence had another chance at even strength.

Senior Ricki-Lee Doyle broke free down the left side of the ice, firing a shot from the faceoff circle directly at Boe.

The puck came across Boe’s left, but she got her stick on it and knocked it up in the air.

For a moment, the puck was airborne and looked like it might escape Boe’s reach and go right up into the netting behind her.

But Boe quickly stretched back and brought her glove up from behind her, clamping down on the puck and closing yet another window of opportunity for the Saints.

And with her play, she helped give Harvard the opportunity to play for the NCAA championship game against Minnesota.

—Staff writer John R. Hein can be reached at hein@fas.harvard.edu.

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