It wasn't supposed to end this way.
Not for Harvard women's hockey captains Winkie Mleczko and Diana Clark, who have been the bedrock of the team since they arrived on campus. Or for senior goalkeeper Erin Villiotte, Harvard's all-time shutout leader. Harvard
No, the 6-1 loss to the University of New Hampshire in the ECAC quarterfinal Saturday night in Rochester, N.H. was not the way the women had hoped to close out the season.
But the team knew they had their work cut out for them when they took on the Wildcats, ranked second in the ECAC tournament.
"They're a great team," sophomore forward Christa Calagione said. "They passed well and they're quick."
That offensive prowess translated into a game that, despite Harvard's best efforts, was played predominately in the Harvard zone.
UNH cycled its offensemen around the net, forcing Harvard's defense to play man-to-man. But it was hard for the Crimson skaters to keep up with the speedy UNH offense.
"When they got loose, that's when they got their goals," Villiotte said.
All the UNH goals came from in close on rebounds from the besieged Villiotte, who turned in a stellar finale with 36 saves.
"Erin came up with some awesome saves," sophomore Lauren Turner said. "She kept us in the game."
UNH forward Brandy Fisher proved to be Villiotte's nemesis for the evening, scoring the first two UNH goals at 3:36 and 9:28 in the first period and finishing the night with a hat trick and an assist.
The man-to-man defense also tired out a Crimson team with only three lines, as compared to the four lines of the Wildcats.
Still, the Crimson held close, going into the first intermission down only 2-1, thanks to sophomore forward A.J. Mleczko.
On the play, Calagione got the puck deep in her zone and fired a pass to junior blue-liner Holly Leitzes who took it to the Harvard blue line.
There, she rifled a pass to sophomore forward A.J. Mleczko,. who sent the biscuit home from just inside the UNH blue line, beating UNH goalie Dina Solimini.