Harvard (9-13-2, 7-9-2 ECAC) came up just short of a miraculous comeback against Boston University (11-14-6, 6-11-5 Hockey East) in the 2018 Beanpot semifinal on Tuesday evening, falling by a score of 3-2.
Crimson hockey fans know that this matchup can get wild, with the last meeting between the two ending in a 6-6 tie following overtime. Tonight proved to be no different. Harvard found itself down 3-0 within six minutes of the initial puck drop, following a pair of goals from senior Victoria Bach and one from freshman Jesse Compher. This was a somewhat surprising result considering the two schools’ records as well as their respective histories against one another. The Terriers had beaten the Crimson in the Beanpot tournament just twice in the tournament’s 40-year history before its win last night.
Falling behind early did not deter Harvard though, as it found itself very much in the game in the first period and throughout the rest of the contest. After settling down, the Crimson seemed to outplay Boston University for long stretches, at times looking like it was the one leading by a score of 3-0.
“I think it was out of pure frustration honestly that we turned it around.” said sophomore forward Kat Hughes. “Obviously you never want to get down early on, especially not by three goals, but right when that third goal went in, it kind of flipped a switch, and we started playing really hard.”
Harvard broke through with five minutes remaining in the first period, when freshman forward Brooke Jovanovich found the net following a save from Terriers keeper Corinne Schroeder. From that goal until the end of the first period, the Crimson looked hungry for more, testing the Boston University keeper on multiple occasions, and looking as if it would pull within touching distance before the start of the second frame.
The Terriers had their chances as well, and goalie Beth Larcom came up big for Harvard many times throughout the extremely lively, back and forth affair. Things got even more interesting when the Crimson went up a player early on in the second period. After some sustained pressure on the Boston University defense, senior defender Chelsea Ziadie struck a thunderbolt from just outside of the neutral zone, finding its way through plenty of traffic, one pair of Harvard legs, and into the net to bring the Crimson within just one goal of its crosstown rival.
With a spot in the Beanpot final on the line and Harvard trailing by just a single goal, the Terriers managed to pick up the intensity, and began to match the Crimson's pace. Larcom stayed vigilant, finishing the night with 29 saves, compared to 24 from Boston University’s Schroeder.
The night finished in disappointment for Harvard, as it was not able to finish off what would have surely been a memorable comeback in Chestnut Hill. With the final seconds ticking away, the Crimson pulled its goalie in hopes of finding that decisive third goal, but that continued to be elusive. In a six versus five situation and with pressure mounting, Schroeder sprawled and saved a shot which made its way across the length of goal line, somehow keeping the Terriers ahead. With Harvard’s net open, Boston University almost took advantage of its opportunity to seal the game, with a shot from senior forward Victoria Bach just missing the empty net as time expired. Had this gone in, it would’ve marked a hat trick for Bach.
Harvard has struggled to bounce back from opponents' goals recently, conceding three in rapid succession late in the game on Saturday versus No. 4 Colgate after firmly holding the Raiders at 1-0 for almost 40 minutes. The same problem troubled the team last night, with the Terriers' three goals coming within just 2:21 of one another, and within just over six minutes of the game’s start. Following this lapse, Harvard was strong on defense, shutting its opponents out for the remaining 55 or so minutes of the game.
Jovanovich continues to leave her mark on this team and this season, with the Ontario native’s goal earning her a fourth point in her last four games. Contributions from fellow freshmen Buckles, Gilmore, Sorkin and others have been big this season, and they show that the Crimson can be optimistic looking toward the future.
“This year was the 40th annual Beanpot, and for the history of women’s hockey, it’s a big deal.” said junior captain forward Kate Hallett. “It’s exciting to be able to be a part of an unbelievable tradition, but beyond that, something which Coach Stone always says is that it’s an opportunity to play for a trophy in February. That’s always really exciting.”
The loss means that Harvard will have to look on from the sidelines next Tuesday at Conte Forum during the Beanpot Championship, in which Boston University will play Boston College at 8 p.m. The Crimson and Northeastern will vie for third place in the consolation game at 4:30 on the same day.
—Staff writer Eamon McLoughlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.