Missing some of its top players, the one-loss Harvard women’s hockey team appeared vulnerable for a time Saturday night as one-win Cornell pressured hard in the third period of a tied game.
And then the floodgates opened. The No. 8 Crimson (5-1-0, 5-1-0 ECAC) poured in four goals in six minutes—including three in 55 seconds—to ice the Big Red (1-6-1, 1-3-0 ECAC) in a 5-2 victory in the Bright Hockey Center.
“Katie Johnston scored the third goal and I didn’t see the next two because they happened so quickly,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said.
The Crimson was without high-scoring forwards senior Julie Chu and sophomore Sarah Vaillancourt, along with junior defenseman Caitlin Cahow. The three spent the weekend competing at the international Four Nations Cup in Ontario. Chu and Cahow played for the U.S., which lost to Vaillancourt and victorious Canada.
Nary these threats, senior forward Liza Solley stepped up for Harvard on the power play. With 5:51 remaining in the third period and the game tied 1-1, the Crimson put on a display of crisp passing culminating with a shot from freshman forward Randi Griffin. Solley corralled the rebound and tucked it in to give Harvard the lead.
“We definitely bumped it up. We had a sense of urgency,” Solley said. “We knew that time was winding down.”
Shortly after play resumed, Johnston deftly stole the puck and rocketed it past Cornell goalkeeper Jenny Niewsluchowski for a 3-1 lead.
Nine seconds later, Harvard struck again. Freshman defenseman Kathryn Farni passed the puck to Solley, who shot from the right circle towards the upper right corner of the goal. Niewsluchowski—perhaps stunned by the sudden onslaught—failed to make the save.
“They caused us a lot of trouble, they got in our way, they set picks, and are pretty big kids,” Stone said. “We fought through it and finally got to the goalkeeper. I can’t explain how things snapped, but they did.”
The Big Red fought back, notching a goal of its own with three minutes remaining. Cornell defenseman Steph Ulrich scored on a slow floating shot to the upper right corner—one Crimson sophomore goalie Christina Martin probably should have saved.
As time ran down, the Big Red pulled its goalie in favor of extra offense, but to no avail. Sophomore forward Sarah Wilson stole the puck and skated back down the left side of the rink, putting it in the empty goal for the last score of the day.
Harvard had scored the game’s first goal in the second period on a power play on the first goal of sophomore Katie Vaughn’s career. Cornell had tied the game at 1-1 early in the third period when five Big Red players converged on the goal, with sophomore forward Emma Chipman putting in the equalizer.
Key to Harvard’s win was its performance on special teams. Even without Vaillancourt and Chu, the Crimson scored on two of five power plays—and successfully defended all five of Cornell’s opportunities.
Nevertheless, Stone still sees room for her team to improve.
“We need to get a lot better. We’re killing ourselves sometimes and it’s important we continue to learn how to play as a team,” Stone said. “We’ve got to make sure nobody outworks us. And shift to shift, game to game, everyone once in a while, that’s happening.”