The No. 2 Harvard women's hockey team is one step closer to defending its national title.
Led by the offensive heroics of sophomores Angela Ruggiero and Jen Botterill, the No. 2 seed Crimson (21-4-3, 17-4-3 ECAC) rolled to a solid 7-3 victory over No. 7 seed St. Lawrence (18-15-1, 11-12-1) in the first round of the ECAC tournament on Saturday at Bright Hockey Center.
Harvard will face No. 3 seed Dartmouth (19-10-0, 17-7-0) in the semifinal round next Saturday at Brown's Meehan Auditorium after Dartmouth squeaked by No. 6 seed Providence (20-10-3, 14-7-3) 1-0 in double overtime.
Harvard took control of the contest early. The Crimson outshot the Saints in the first period, 16-5.
"At the start of the game, the kids were ready to go," said Harvard Coach Katey Stone. "They were full of energy, well-prepared, fresh."
The Crimson jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the first period, and never looked back. Ruggiero, a defenseman, started the Crimson scoring less than five minutes into the first period. At the 4:11 mark, Ruggiero made a deft one-on-one move to beat Saints goalie Emily Stein, assisted by junior winger Tammy Shewchuk. Botterill, a center, quickly extended Harvard's lead to 2-0 on a breakaway at 7:57 of the first.
Ruggiero netted her second goal of the afternoon on the power play at 16:32 of the first period. Off a pass from freshman winger Kalen Ingram, Ruggiero shot and scored from the left wing near the blueline, making it 3-0. Then, with less than a minute left before the first intermission, Harvard capitalized on a four-on-three power play. Botterill let one fly from the center of the blueline for 4-0 at the break. She was helped by junior center Angie Francisco, who recorded her 30th assist on the season.
Harvard's defense was able to preserve the early lead. Senior netminder Crystal Springer made 26 saves on the afternoon, 21 of them in the final two periods.
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