In a weekend that pitted the Crimson against two of the nation’s fiercest opponents, the Harvard women’s hockey team garnered mixed results, coming from behind to tie No. 5 Cornell, 2-2, on Friday, before falling to No. 4 Colgate, 4-0, on Saturday.
COLGATE 4, HARVARD 0
Despite staying within touching distance for the majority of the game, the Crimson (9-12-2, 7-9-2 ECAC) were ultimately shut out by the Raiders (25-4-1, 15-3-0), 4-0, on Saturday afternoon.
It took 10 shots on goal for Colgate to break the scoreless tie, as the Raiders finally struck around 12 minutes into the first period. Junior forward Jessie Eldridge broke away near the halfway line and finished past Harvard sophomore keeper Beth Larcom, who had bailed out her teams several times up until that point.
After the opening goal, the Crimson settled down, coming into its own and finding its rhythm against its opponents from upstate New York. Harvard looked menacing at times despite having fewer shots on goal in the game. Freshman forward Becca Gilmore looked especially dangerous on the breakaway.
The Crimson held the Raiders in check for almost 40 minutes before the floodgates opened, as the visitors conceded twice in a span of 30 seconds in the third period. With seven minutes remaining in the game, junior defender Olivia Zafuto put the first away from point blank following a save from Larcom. Just after the ensuing faceoff, Colgate instantly made its way down the ice once again, with senior forward Shelby Perry finishing off Eldridge’s assist to put the game out of reach for Harvard.
“I think we played with a lot of speed and we created a lot of chances,” Gilmore said. “We have to keep working on finishing and capitalizing on the opponent’s mistakes to win those games, especially against really talented teams.”
Larcom finished the contest with 44 saves, setting a new career high and eclipsing the 41 saves made by her freshman counterpart Becky Dutton on the previous night.
With three minutes remaining, Colgate added a fourth goal from Eldridge, her second of the night. This capped off a strong performance for the Raiders, who sit second in the ECAC standings. The Crimson is currently tied for seventh place in the ECAC with Yale, with just two points separating it from ninth-place Rensselaer and the non-playoff spots.
HARVARD 2, CORNELL 2
Harvard (9-11-2, 7-8-2) pulled out a huge 2-2 tie in the first of its two home games of the weekend vs No. 5 Cornell (13-7-3, 10-5-2), in a game with big playoff implications between Ivy League rivals.
The Crimson found itself 2-0 down in the first period against one of the top programs in the nation after the Big Red lit the lamp twice early with goals from freshman defender Kendra Nealy and senior forward Brianna Veerman. Getting anything out of the game looked nearly impossible for Harvard heading into the second period.
The Crimson was not deterred though, and in the later stages of the game proved that it was able to keep up with some of the best. Midway through the second period, Harvard found itself in a three-versus-one, with freshman forward Brooke Jovanovich passing off to fellow freshman forward Keely Moy, who finished coolly to give the Crimson hope heading into the final frame. This was Moy’s third goal in her last two games, an impressive tally for the San Diego native.
With just under a minute remaining against the defending ECAC-runners up, and its net sitting empty, Harvard was pushing hard for the equalizer when the breakthrough finally came.
Gilmore picked up the puck on the left side before finding sophomore Kat Hughes in the right circle, who sent a sizzling shot past junior keeper Marlene Boissonnault to tie the Ancient Eight affair.
Neither team was able to break the other down in overtime and thus both teams had to settle for a 2-2 finish. Although the Big Red outshot Harvard 43-25 overall and performed better on faceoffs, winning 32 to the Crimson’s 21, both teams left the ice knowing that the game could’ve went either way. Harvard came up empty on four power plays, while Cornell was not able to convert any of its three power plays on the night.
Coach Stone’s trust in her younger players paid off in a big way for the Crimson on Friday. One of the goals, and both of the assists came from freshmen, and it was not just on offense that the first years were putting in a shift. In just her third career start, Dutton racked up 41 saves—just one shy of doubling her career high of 21, which came the last time Harvard matched up against the Big Red, a 4-3 loss in January.
“The team really stepped up to claw back and tie that game,” Dutton said. “It was a huge point as we’re trying to make playoffs right now. I can’t be proud enough of the team really. We knew that we could do it.”
—Staff writer Eamon J. McLoughlin can be reached at email@example.com.
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