Harvard Stumbles After Month-Long Layoff

I've Got Jills
Meredith H. Keffer

Freshman Jillian Dempsey netted the equalizer late in the third of Friday's 3-3 tie at Princeton, but the Harvard offense couldn't find the back of the net in a 1-0 loss to Quinnipiac Saturday.

Thanks to a month-long break from play jammed in the middle of the Harvard women’s hockey team’s schedule, the Crimson’s 2009-10 campaign can appropriately be described as a tale of two seasons. And thus far, the trajectory of the second seems to be mirroring that of the first.

No. 5 Harvard (8-4-3, 6-4-1 ECAC) began play in late October inauspiciously, struggling early on to a 2-3-0 start before an eight-game stretch without a loss propelled the team back into the national rankings. This weekend, the Crimson took the ice for the first time since Dec. 8, once again scuffling out of the gate with a 3-3 tie against Princeton (9-9-3, 7-4-3) on Friday and a 1-0 loss yesterday to Quinnipiac (9-7-6, 6-3-5).

“I think we’re starting off again kind of how we did at the beginning of the season,” junior forward Kate Buesser said. “I think it is hard to take that month off, but I don’t think it’s going to get us down for much longer.”

While Harvard quickly found itself staring down a 2-0 deficit on Friday against the Tigers, the Crimson clawed its way back into the game and eventually settled for the draw.

On Saturday, Harvard dominated control of the puck, outshooting the Bobcats, 31-9, but the Crimson was unable to capitalize on its opportunities and suffered a 1-0 loss.

Harvard played without standout senior goalie Christina Kessler this weekend, who helped lead the Canadian U-22 team to gold in the MLP Cup.

“She’s one of our best players,” Crimson coach Katey Stone said. “Any time you take one of your best players out of your lineup, there’s going to be an impact. You hope you don’t miss a beat, but sometimes you do.”

Freshman backup Laura Bellamy started in Kessler’s place, making 21 saves over two games.

“I think [Bellamy] responded very well,” Stone said. “She made some big saves down the stretch of the Princeton game. She did a good job against Quinnipiac.”

QUINNIPIAC 1, HARVARD 0

Quality often trumps quantity, as the Crimson found out the hard way against the Bobcats yesterday.

While Harvard launched 31 shots at Quinnipiac goalie Victoria Vigilanti, none of them reached the back of the net. The Bobcats, on the other hand, made the most of their limited chances, converting one of their nine shots into the only goal of the game.

Just over 17 minutes into the second period, Quinnipiac’s Kelly Davies received a pass from teammate Kate Wheeler and slipped it by Bellamy to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.

The Crimson had ample opportunity to get on the board, but few of the pucks unleashed in Harvard’s shot barrage presented Vigilanti with much difficulty.

“I don’t think they were that difficult to save,” Stone said. “When we had real Grade-A chances, we shot it right into [Vigilanti’s] pads or shot it wide. We played on the periphery and didn’t jump into the deep end.”

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