Sometimes the scoreboard does not tell the whole story: That was the case for the Harvard women’s hockey team on Saturday afternoon. The Crimson skated past Princeton by a 4-1 tally in what was a much more tightly contested affair than the box score might suggest.
Harvard (5-4-1, 3-2-1 Ivy League) and the visiting Tigers (3-7-3, 3-5-1) entered Saturday’s game at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center on a bit of a skid, each desperate for a win. Both teams had lost of three of their past four games, and the Crimson was eager to complete the season sweep of Princeton, having already beaten the Tigers by a 3-2 score on the road.
A late barrage of shots on Princeton goaltender Alyssa DaSilva resulted in third period goals from freshman Brooke Jovanovich and sophomore Val Turgeon, securing the victory for Harvard. The senior struggled in net for the visitors, in what was just her fourth start of the year.
Opposing the Princeton netminder was sophomore goaltender Beth Larcom, who had a standout afternoon between the pipes for the Crimson, conceding just one goal and repelling 32 shots to secure her seventh win of the season.
“Every game that I go into, I have to lock down and be focused; all that matters is the next shot,” Larcom said. “I found my groove and fed off the team’s energy. But at the end of the day, everyone has a job to do, and I’m glad I was able to get mine done.”
Special teams proved to be a crucial element of Saturday’s tilt, especially in a sloppy first period that featured six penalties.
Just as Harvard finished killing a cross-checking penalty to Bradley Fusco, the Crimson regained possession in its own end and orchestrated a breakaway that led to the game’s first goal, a mere 10 seconds after getting back to full strength.
The Crimson was able to successfully defend three first period Princeton power plays to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
“One thing that is important to us is penalty killing; we take a lot of pride in it,” co-captain Kate Hallett said. “That requires a lot of communication and composure both on and off the ice. By being diligent and disciplined while sticking to our system, we’re confident in our ability.”
In spite of its lead, Harvard entered the intermission trailing 16-10 in shots, and the second period offered more of the same. The opportunistic Princeton offense continued to assail Larcom and the Crimson defense, and the equalizer finally followed five minutes into the second period.
The Tigers’ 21st shot was the one that bore fruit, as junior forward Keiko DeClerk snuck a shot by Larcom to tie the score at one. The visitors continued to apply heavy pressure and appeared to wrest momentum away from Harvard.
Towards the end of the second period, a quick break by Harvard resulted in a golden opportunity for Jovanovich, but the puck was cleared out of the crease by Princeton.
The opportunity was a sign of things to come, and less than a minute later senior forward Haley Mullins scored from close-range to put Harvard ahead 2-1. It was the third goal of the season for the co-captain, and the Crimson held on for the remainder of the period, entering the intermission with a one-goal lead.
Despite being outshot by a 30-19 margin through two periods, solid goaltending and costly penalties from the Tigers allowed Harvard to regain control of the game in the third period.
With time winding down in the third period, Turgeon took over the game, assisting her fellow forward Jovanovich to give the Crimson a 3-1 lead with under seven minutes remaining.
“Val definitely had a lot of energy on the ice yesterday,” Larcom said. “She created a lot of chances for us. To see her have so much success is great because she’s been working hard and contributing a lot.”
Just three minutes later, Jovanovich returned the favor on the power-play, feeding Turgeon for her second goal of the game and sixth of the season. For Turgeon, Saturday’s first star of the game, the two goals and three points were both career highs. The Denver, Colo., native’s breakout game, along with Larcom’s solid goaltending were the defining performances from a solid home victory.
“I think yesterday’s victory was great,” Hallett said. “It’s amazing when you can come off a loss and bounce back like today. The energy that we used to put Princeton away today was exciting.”
—Staff writer Amir A.M. Mamdani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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