The No. 5 Harvard women’s hockey team took the lead first in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010. But after finding the back of the net in the first period, the Crimson advantage lasted just 60 seconds. No. 4 Boston College evened the score at one and went on to score two more unanswered goals, besting Harvard, 3-1, Saturday afternoon at Conte Forum.
“You create your own luck with your hustle and the tempo of your game, and we just didn't have it today,” Crimson coach Katey Stone said. “We were just a step behind.”
Despite outshooting the Eagles (27-6-3, 17-2-2 WHEA), 31-24, Harvard (24-7-3, 17-3-2 ECAC) was unable to get any pucks to fall after its first goal came on a power play.
Both squads traded power-play opportunities in the first frame, but it wasn’t until Boston College committed a hooking penalty 16 minutes into the period that Harvard buried the puck in the back of the net. Freshman forward Mary Parker notched the goal for the Crimson, assisted by sophomore Samantha Reber and senior Kaitlin Spurling. The contest was Parker’s fourth consecutive game with a goal.
Harvard’s momentum was almost instantly wiped out, when Eagles forward Haley Skarupa skimmed the puck right under freshman goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer only a minute following Parker’s tally.
“When we scored first, it was a big momentum swing, and we almost made it 2-0 immediately after,” captain Jillian Dempsey said. “Their second goal gave them more energy and put us on our heels, which hurt us.”
Maschmeyer had 21 saves on the day, but it was Boston College senior goaltender Corinne Boyles who led her team to victory with 30 saves, outlasting the Crimson’s third period onslaught.
“I think our shot selection was not at a place where we like it to be,” Stone said. “I think we made [Boyles] comfortable by putting a lot of pucks into the basket... right in front of her. We didn't bury the rebounds, but they were there.”
The second frame belonged to the Eagles. Two minutes into the period, Boston College forward Caitlin Walsh broke free and slammed the puck past Maschmeyer and into the corner of the net.
Harvard continued putting more pucks on net than the Eagles did, and had a break-away opportunity from junior forward Gina McDonald, but with less than five minutes left in to play in the frame, it was Boston College defender Blake Bolden who fed the puck to teammate Alex Carpenter and allowed her to up the Eagles’ advantage to two.
“They cleared pucks, they made it difficult, [and] they blocked a lot of shots as well,” Stone said. “I didn't think we were great offensively at all on entry, in the zone, and in possession. We were okay.”
The Crimson came out of the break firing, getting off a total of 13 shots in the last frame. Spurling gave Harvard another close scoring opportunity off of a breakaway just minutes into the period, but Boyles continued to show her strength after two failed power-play attempts by the Crimson. Harvard received its last advantage at the 16:26 mark, after a Boston College tripping penalty. The Crimson fired multiple shots at Boyles and controlled the puck for almost all of the final two minutes. Unable to find the back of the net, Harvard pulled Maschmeyer with a little over a minute and a half left in the game, but the Crimson could not convert, and the score was finalized at 3-1.
“Unfortunately, a couple of fluke pucks found the back of the net and put us in a hole we couldn't get out of,” Dempsey said.
“I think BC took advantage of their opportunities when they were presented to them,” Stone said. “My hat is off to them. They're a very good team and they handled the momentum shifts of the game better than we did.”
With their victory, the Eagles advanced to the Frozen Four and are set to play No. 1 Minnesota this Friday.
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