Harvard Overcomes Early Deficit, Downs UConn

Meghan T. Purdy

Junior right wing Liza Solley, shown in earlier action, scored in the third period to finish off a three-point performance and give the Crimson some breathing room. She had contributed an assist just two minutes earlier.

The first 31 seconds of any athletic contest don’t usually give a great deal of insight into the game’s final outcome.

That’s a very good thing for the Harvard women’s hockey team.

Although it took just over half a minute for Connecticut to net its first goal against the Crimson(7-4-2, 4-2-2 ECAC), Harvard battled back to beat the Huskies (5-12-0, 4-4-0 Hockey East) by a score of 3-1 last night at Bright Hockey Center.

“I thought, ‘Oh God, it’s going to be one of those days,’” Crimson coach Katey Stone said. “We were just a little unprepared in the beginning, but then we battled back.”

Harvard completely dominated the shot battle, putting 41 shots on goal compared to just 15 for UConn.

“That was one of our goals for the game,” said junior left wing Jennifer Sifers, who scored two points against the Huskies. “We succeeded, we don’t always do that, and it was a big accomplishment.”

A power play goal from sophomore left wing Laura Brady 5:47 into the third period put the Crimson up 2-1, giving the team its first lead of the game—a lead it would never relinquish. Sifers and junior right wing Liza Solley, who finished with three points against UConn, assisted on the score.

The third point from Solley came on a goal just over two minutes after the Brady score, which was assisted by freshman center Jenny Brine and freshman right defense Nora Sluzas, who assisted on two of the Crimson’s goals on the evening.

A goal from Jaclyn Hawkins on the first shot of the game gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead, but Harvard battled back to tie the score at one less than five minutes later on a put back in front of the net by Sifers.

It was partly thanks to the defense, however, that the offense got so many chances.

“We did a nice job in our neutral zone, and defensively, we shot down their chances,” Stone said. “We played really hard for 60 minutes, and that’s probably the reason [the shot discrepancy] was so lopsided.”

Besides the first shot and score, senior goaltender Ali Boe had to make only four saves, compared to 14 shots on goal from the Crimson in the opening period. The majority of the frame was spent in the UConn zone, until a late slashing penalty by freshman right wing Sarah Wilson gave the Huskies a power play and put some much-needed pressure on Boe, who, despite the early miscue, played a strong game in net.

“They caught us way off guard, because we came into this game really mentally prepared,” Sifers said. “It was a bad thing because, obviously, they scored, but it was a good thing because it kind of woke us up.”

“We were just a little unprepared at the beginning,” Stone agreed. “But it was early enough in the game where you just know you’re going to keep coming at them.”

Although the majority of the first period came and went without penalty, a body check transgression by UConn 1:30 into the second frame gave Harvard a power play it could enjoy for exactly 13 seconds—the amount of time before freshman right defense Kati Vaughn’s penalty for elbowing wiped away the Crimson’s advantage.

Harvard saw a number of full strength opportunities during that second period, too, failing to capitalize while still out-shooting the Huskies 11-5. A scoreless second period held the score at 1-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.

The trend of the game—the Crimson’s inability to create points despite dominating on the offensive end—was something the Crimson had not had much trouble with in recent contests, scoring 13 goals in its previous two outings, both shutouts of Union. In those two contests, 14 different players scored at least one point, while ten of them came away from the two-game sweep with a goal.

Harvard didn’t put on the offensive clinic that it did in its last two, but it did enough to earn the victory, the team’s fourth in a row overall—a season best—as well as their fourth consecutive win against Connecticut.

Next up is the fourth of five straight home games today against New Hampshire at 7 p.m.

“They have all the pressure on them,” Stone said. “We’re just going to play like the underdogs, be hungry, and do all the little things well, and hopefully it will be a great game.”

“We’re ready to take them on,” Sifers said. “We’re totally ready and totally confident going into this game.”