CORNELL 6 HARVARD 0
Harvard did prove to be up for the challenge of facing the nation’s seventh-ranked team for the first chunk of the first period. However, after Cornell (11-2-5, 9-2-1 ECAC) added its first tally, the Crimson strayed from its traditionally vaunted defense. Five more goals and one goalie pull later, Harvard had fallen 6-0 to the Big Red.
“We had a really good start, I thought, right off the [opening] faceoff,” Gilmore said. “We just deflated when they got a goal. Cornell came to play — they brought their game — and I don’t think we brought our game.”
Locked at 0-0 for the first eight minutes of play, the teams seemed poised for a nail-biter. After all, in October, the Big Red had edged the Crimson by just one goal, 3-2. Over the next eight minutes, however, the game unraveled for Harvard as Cornell added three quick goals.
So far in January, the Crimson has been playing short-staffed, suffering from a series of injuries and other absences. After getting many players back together last week and experimenting with new lineups, a lack of chemistry seemed to plague Harvard in the second game of the weekend.
“I think one part of it was that this was the first weekend everyone was back,” Tse said. “Everyone’s in, and everyone has new roles. Maybe we didn’t adapt to those new roles as quickly as we should have. Frankly, I think that we didn’t have as many people on the same page as we would have liked, and that shows in the score.”
The Big Red would continue its offensive explosion in the second period, adding three more goals to draw the scoreline to 6-0 before the second intermission. In fact, after the fifth goal, the Crimson would pull Reed, who has the second-highest save percentage in the nation at 0.945, for sophomore Becky Dutton. Dutton closed out the game for the Crimson with one goal allowed on seven shots.
“We have one of the best goalies in the NCAA, and we hung her out to dry,” Gilmore said. “She’s saved us in so many games, and then in this game couldn’t bail us out.”
Despite a slow first two periods, Harvard did manage to flip the momentum in the third. Although the Crimson could not score, the team outshot Cornell over the final frame 14-4. Harvard found a way to finish strong and will look to build upon that fact before trying to muster a postseason run, which will necessitate stronger offensive play.
“If you can’t score, you’re not going to win games,” Tse said. “Right now, that’s what we’re focusing on. Whatever line combination that is, whatever power play combination, [penalty kill] combination. Right now, we’ve just got to get back to work and figure it out. There’s no point of sugar coating it. We’ve just got to win games.”
COLGATE 4 HARVARD 2
Despite getting eight more shots on goal over the first two frames, Harvard found itself down 3-0 heading into the third period. Over the first half of the final act — despite flurries of chances — the Crimson could not find the back of the net.
All of the sudden, however, the Crimson netted two goals in a 1:31 span. With five minutes remaining in the game, Harvard had cut the deficit to 3-2 and seemed poised to complete the comeback. For senior defender Kaitlin Tse, the game plan for the final five minutes was straightforward.
“Go, don’t guess,” Tse said. “Simply, that’s it. You have nothing to lose at this point. You want to manage the game well. You want to manage it when you pull the goalie.”
Nonetheless, with the goalie replaced for an extra skater, Harvard could not complete the comeback, surrendering an empty net goal to Raiders’ sophomore forward Malia Schneider with 1:02 left on the clock. By the time the scoreboard hit zeroes, Colgate (14-6-4, 8-2-2 ECAC) emerged as 4-2 victors, completing a contest in which it had never trailed.
The Raiders came out to a quick start, striking just 5:37 into the opening frame with a power play blast from senior defender Olivia Zafuto. Taking a pass from the point, Zafuto walked up a couple strides to the top of the faceoff circle before firing through a screen and by the arm of Harvard freshman goalie Lindsay Reed, who finished the game with 32 saves on 35 shots. Just under ten minutes later, Colgate added another goal from sophomore forward Coralie Larose.
Throughout the first two periods, the Crimson held a steady advantage over the Raiders in shots, earning a 32-24 advantage over that span. Despite Harvard’s success in generating chances, the only goal of the second period belonged to Colgate as the Raiders stretched their lead to 3-0 before the second to intermission.
“We had a lot of shots on net—more shots than we’ve had all season—and that gave us a lot of confidence going into the third,” sophomore forward Becca Gilmore said. “Basically, the message was just keep playing how we were playing. We were playing Harvard hockey. At some point the puck [would] go in if you get shots.”
For the first two-thirds of the final period, Harvard maintained pressure but also defended well, holding Colgate scoreless on their 12 shots in the third. With the defense shored up and the chances continuing to come, the Crimson finally reaped dividends for its shooting advantage. With 6:31 left in the game, Harvard found its scoring touch, with offense coming from the defensive end. After passes from freshman forward Kristin Della Rovere and Gilmore, Tse found the top corner of the net from long range.
“I got a good pass...I waited out a screen, and I shot high,” Tse said. “I just picked a corner and got lucky enough — it went in.”
Harvard would keep its foot on the gas and find offense again from the same source. At the five-minute mark — on the power play and on the opposite side of the ice — Tse found the top shelf a second time. Curling up from near the goal line and towards the top of the circle, Tse picked the other top corner. Also like on the first goal, Gilmore added an assist with co-captain and forward Lexie Laing contributing the secondary pass.
“At this point, you’re just shooting to score,” Tse said. “You don’t want to set up plays at this point. So, I picked a corner, and I shot, and lucky enough, same thing, I got a goal. It was luck and sharp shooting combined.”
The offensive chances would continue for the final minutes of the game, but the goals did not. After surrendering the empty netter and finishing the game 4-2, the Crimson found themselves 5-9-2 on the season.
Despite the setback, the game ended with Harvard outshooting the Raiders 42-36 and winning the faceoff battle 30-29 as well. Moreover, the Crimson won the third period and controlled the momentum in the final stanza, giving the squad some positives to build off of for its second matchup of the weekend against No. 7/7 Cornell.
“I think it’s encouraging, definitely, that we can put 42 shots on a phenomenal team,” Gilmore said. “But it definitely is frustrating when the puck isn’t going in the net… [It’s] definitely a little frustrating, but also a positive outlook that we can compete at that level. We just need to learn to dig deep and bury them [shots].”
In many ways, Harvard is treating this weekend like a new beginning. With a fuller roster and the experience of a few months of conference play, the Crimson is turning to its junior and senior leadership to finish the campaign strong.
“We had a great message from our captains and our leadership from the senior and junior class that, come Monday, it’s going to be a new year, and we’re going to have to find a way to play a full 60 minutes,” Gilmore said. “We’re going to get to work on Monday, and things are going to change next weekend. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Echoing a similar sentiment, Tse emphasized that the team must return to basics and play more cohesively. If the Crimson can do that, the squad is confident it should have the ability to climb the conference standings.
“[If] we play our systems, and we do our jobs and buy into our roles, we can be a very good team. Easier said than done. This weekend should be a good test. We are a good team whenever we play together, and we proved it in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving Break.”
— Staff writer William C. Boggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BoggsTHC for updates on Harvard women’s ice hockey.
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