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Sophomore center Jen Botterill was the overtime heroine for the second year in a row as the No. 3 Harvard women's hockey team captured back-to-back Beanpot titles for the first time since 1983.
"It was a great hockey game," Harvard Coach Katey Stone said. "The hockey gods were looking out for Harvard tonight."
Harvard (15-4-3, 12-4-3 ECAC) downed No.8 Northeastern (16-7-3, 10-5-3) 4-3 at 2:18 in overtime on Botterill's 20th goal of the season, with assists from junior winger Tammy Shewchuk and freshman winger Kalen Ingram.
Circling behind the goal line, Shewchuk spotted Botterill open in the slot.
"I just saw Tammy in the corner," Botterill said. "She had a lane to pass and put it right on my stick."
Taking the feed, Botterill made no mistake, one timing a wrist shot past the out stretched blocker of junior goaltender Erika Silva.
"With all my teammates in the corner doing the hard work, I just have to finish it off when they put it on my stick," a modest Botterill said.
It was the second goal of the night for Botterill and the second time that one of her goals has clinched the Beanpot title for Harvard in overtime.
Botterill scored the winner in last year's 7-6 overtime victory in the Beanpot final against Northeastern that spoiled the Huskies' chances for a three-peat and gave Harvard its first title since 1995.
"She's the go-to-girl," sophomore defenseman Angela Ruggiero said. "She's a finisher."
The Crimson, who had been held scoreless for over 25-minutes of hockey, needed someone to step up in overtime after Silva foiled Harvard's attempts to net the go-ahead goal in the third period.
"That's the great thing about these kids," Stone said. "They're finishers. It's nice to have Ruggiero and Shewchuk and Jen in OT."
The victory for Harvard, however, has implications beyond the Beanpot tournament.
Harvard has struggled of late, losing twice in the past two weeks, 1-0 to Providence and 5-3 to Dartmouth.
The big win over the Huskies will hopefully be infectious as the Crimson prepares for its showdown with No.1 Brown this Saturday.
"It's great to have everyone back," Stone said. "It's the first time in a long time that we've had everyone back and that's where we play our best."
Harvard could possibly meet the Huskies in the ECAC playoffs and might even vie for the national title against its cross-town rival.
In January, Northeastern and Harvard were ranked No.1 and No.2 respectively before both teams went into a February funk.
"Last year we would pull things out all the time," Ruggiero said. "We were having trouble with that this year, but hopefully tonight will change things."
Dominating the Huskies in the second period, the Crimson jumped out to a brief 3-2 lead on a powerplay goal from Ruggiero at 15:32.
Harvard's advantage, however, would be short-lived.
The Huskies tied the game on a powerplay goal from junior winger Kathleen Savino to head into the third period tied 3-3.
The late goal by Savino was unfortunate for the Crimson, whose special teams controlled a second period dominated by penalty minutes.
Forced to kill three penalties in the second, the Crimson did an excellent job of killing both of the Huskies' early opportunities before surrendering a powerplay goal at the end of the frame.
At times during the Huskies' first two powerplays, it appeared almost as though the Crimson had the man-advantage.
Botterill knotted the game 2-2 earlier in the second period off a pass from Shewchuk from behind the goal that was very similar to the overtime winner. As in the golden goal, Ingram got the other assist.
Harvard outshot Northeastern 14-6 in the opening period, but could not finish.
The Crimson found themselves in a hole, down 2-1 after the first period, despite out playing the Huskies in the opening 20 minutes.
At the other end of the ice, the Huskies capitalized on a pair of opportunistic chances to take a surprising lead into the first intermission.
The Huskies opened the scoring at 8:54 of the first when sophomore center Brooke Whitney took advantage of a poor clearing attempt by the Crimson at the blueline.
Harvard answered the early strike with a powerplay goal from Shewchuk, assisted by Ingram and Botterill.
Cashing in on a five-on-three advantage, Igram drew Silva slightly out the net and then fired a quick pass across the crease to an open Shewchuk who fired it home for her 27th goal of the season.
The Huskies took the lead for the final time late in the first on a goal from junior winger Lisa Giovanelli, assisted by senior winger Hilary Witt and sophomore center Brooke Whitney.
Fighting for the puck behind the Crimson net, Witt unleashed a quick pass out in front to a waiting Giovanelli, who one-timed a wrist shot into the top left corner past a helpless and surprised Springer.
Despite the two early goals, Springer got stronger as the game went on and came up big for the Crimson with a number of key saves late in the third period when the Huskies came close to stealing the title.
"Springer came up big for us late in the third," Stone said. "With two-minutes left, they had a wide-open net and she saved us."
Harvard and Northeastern have faced each other in the Beanpot final every year since Springer, who is now a senior, came to the Crimson.
The Huskies and the Crimson have met each other in the finals 13 of the last 15 years.
In the Beanpot finals, Northeastern leads the series 11-5 over Harvard, and has brought home 14 titles compared to the Crimson's 6.
For the past two years, however, Harvard has had the last laugh in the cross-town rivalry, adding records and awards to what has quickly become the most successful era of women's hockey at Harvard.
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