Last night, junior and former Eagle Anna McDonald was wearing crimson, rather than scoring the game-winner for the other team. This time around, it was BC that held the upper hand in the national polls.
But one thing remains the same. At the end of the night, the Eagles came out on top, and they have their goaltender to thank.
“Molly Schaus,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “They had Molly Schaus. It’s that simple. She’s the difference-maker for them. We had lots of good looks at the net, and she came up very big.”
Schaus kept the Crimson guessing all night, smothering every one of the 40 shots the typically potent Harvard offense launched at her.
1-on-1 breakaways? Five penalty kills? Facing reigning Patty Kazmaier winner Sarah Vaillancourt when she’s coming off a 13-point week?
No problem. Schaus was there when her team needed her.
And without the outstanding play of their junior netminder, the Eagles wouldn’t have been in a position to win the game.
The Crimson controlled much of the offensive play, outshooting BC, 19-6, in the first period and by a 12-3 margin in the third. For the game, Harvard held a 40-23 shot advantage.
“Molly Schaus played a great game for them,” said Schaus’ Crimson counterpart, junior goalie Christina Kessler.
Schaus seemed to be everywhere. Some of her best play came in the second—the only period in which her Eagles outshot Harvard. She nabbed sophomore Liza Ryabkina’s long slapshot on a power play with a beauty of a glove save, and a few minutes later, she stymied senior Sarah Wilson on a breakaway chance.
“I can’t say enough about Molly,” BC coach Katie King said. “She’s great. She really stepped up tonight, and she knew she was going to face some shots…She’s an extremely hard worker and just tries to do whatever she can to make the save, and she did that tonight.”
Luckily for the Crimson, Kessler was on her game as well. For nearly 50 minutes of play, the netminders traded impressive saves as both offenses grew frustrated with their inability to put the puck in the net.
“Kess played great tonight,” Stone said. “Second period, she kept us in it. She was getting mauled in [front of the net], and she did a great job.”
In that second frame, Kessler and her defense faced a tough two minutes of penalty kill after junior Kathryn Farni was whistled for checking.
Two scrums in front of the net led to two near-goals for the Eagles, but Kessler kept her head up even when the puck was ricocheting off skates all over the crease.
As the third period wore on, thoughts of the teams’ last meeting—a 4-3 triple-overtime win for BC in the 2007 Beanpot opener—began to resurface. With both goaltenders playing lights-out, triple overtime suddenly started to seem possible.
“I was reminiscing about the game when we went to three overtimes with them, so I was hoping it wasn’t going to go that long,” King said. “Both goaltenders were playing well, and not for a lack of opportunities either. It was definitely nerve-wracking.”
Schaus shined in BC’s 2007 marathon win, making an NCAA-record 73 saves.
“I think it’s more of the Beanpot, it’s just so exciting,” she said. “You watch it growing up and you hear about it all year. This is what you play for.”
But this year, the Eagles didn’t need extra time to win it.
For all of Kessler’s outstanding play, it’s the one save she couldn’t make that will be remembered.
BC junior Kelli Stack’s shorthanded tally may not have been a sudden-death stunner, but it left Harvard heartbroken all the same.
“That’s a no-winner,” Stone said. “[Kessler] couldn’t do anything about that puck.”
With Schaus in the net, that one goal was all the Eagles would need.
The Crimson was once again sent home wondering how to solve BC’s star goaltender.
“I knew with Molly in the net, all we needed was one goal to win,” Stack said. “I kind of figured that it was going to be a 1-0 game. It was awesome.”
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at email@example.com.
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