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Following three-goal losses in the opening round, the Harvard women's ice hockey team (7-17-3, 6-11-3 ECAC) and the Boston University Terriers (11-17-3, 9-13-3 HEA) returned to Conte Forum to play in the consolation round of the 2023 Beanpot. Even without a Beanpot Championship on the line, both teams desperately wanted a win as they sought to build playoff momentum.
For the Crimson, the match was a tale of two halves. After a hot start, Harvard held a 4-2 lead with 30 minutes remaining. In these final 30 minutes, the Crimson was stuck in neutral, as the Terriersscored five unanswered goals to claim a 7-4 victory and third place at the 2023 Beanpot.
For Harvard head coach Katey Stone, there was no sugarcoating her feelings about her team's effort in staving off the Terriers’ comeback attempt.
"Really disappointed," Stone said. "It doesn't matter which one of these Beanpot games you play in. They all mean a lot."
The Crimson's offensive flurry began just five minutes into the game, thanks to a connection between sophomore defender Mia Biotti and junior forward Shannon Hollands. After saving the puck from drifting out of the offensive zone, Biotti found Hollands streaking across the high slot. Hollands then fired a shot that blew past the goalie and found the top left of the net.
Eight minutes later, Boston University leveled the game at one off of a goal from forward Sydney Healey. While skating away from the goal and trying to avoid the sticks of Harvard defenders, Healey turned on the puck and beat sophomore goalie Daisy Boynton to find the back of the cage.
The first period ended with the Crimson hanging on to a one-goal lead due to its quick work on the power play. With three minutes remaining in the frame, Terriers defender Nadia Mattivi was called for holding, which set up Harvard with a 2-minute one-skater advantage. The Crimson needed just 20 seconds to take the lead, as sophomore forward Gabi Davidson Adams redirected a shot from senior defender Kyra Willoughby for her eighth goal of the season.
Hollands kept the momentum rolling into the second period with an impressive finish on a wild offensive sequence. The sequence started with a breakaway chance for Hollands that was kicked away by Terriers goaltender Callie Shanahan. The follow-up shot by first-year forward Jade Arnone was blocked and deflected back toward Hollands. The second time turned out to be the charm. By pausing before taking the shot, Hollands faked out a defender and froze the goalie before launching a shot just inside the post.
Seconds later, a goal by Julia Nearis cut Harvard's lead back to one. Nearis scored as she was able to calm down a puck that was bouncing toward the goal and guide it past Boynton.
The seesaw once again swung in the Crimson's direction as it increased its lead to two following a team-best 14th goal from senior forward Anne Bloomer. On a two-on-one breakaway chance, Davidson Adams fired a shot that Shanahan saved. Unfortunately for the Terriers, Bloomer was in perfect position for the rebound and scored before Shanahan could recover her position.
After the goal from Bloomer, everything that could go wrong for Harvard did, including committing penalties and turning over the puck.
"There are a lot of places I could probably dive into, but I think at the end of the day, the quality of our play needs to improve dramatically," Stone said.
Boston University struck again in the second on a three-on-three rush. Defender Brooke Disher sent a shot from the top of the faceoff dot that found the top shelf of the net. With one minute left in the second, the Terriers closed the period with a power play goal. Mattivi was credited with the game-tying goal as her shot ricocheted off a Crimson defender into the goal.
Halfway through the third period, Boynton once again had her work cut out for her due to a Harvard defensive error. Following a long outlet pass which a Crimson defender momentarily broke up, a two-on-one rush was set up for Boston University. Christina Vote and Catherine Foulem executed the rush by the book and finished it with a goal as Vote snuck it past Boynton. The goal by Vote turned out to be the game-winner, as the Crimson failed to sustain any offense in the third period. To end the game Clara Yuhn and Vote each scored insurance goals to give the Terriers a 7-4 comeback win.
The seven goals are the second-most surrendered by Harvard this season. The four goals match the most goals scored in a Crimson loss this season.
The 34-save outing by Boynton also served as her first career start, as fellow sophomore goalie Alex Pellicci has thus far gotten the nod over Boynton.
"Young kids need an opportunity to see what they can do," said Stone about the decision to start Boynton.
After clinching a spot in the ECAC playoffs, the last weekend of the regular season may see more experimentation in the lineup. With an outside shot at moving ahead of St. Lawrence (14-17-3, 8-9-3 ECAC) for the seventh seed, the final slate of games will serve as a tune-up for the opening round of the playoffs. Additionally, Harvard's last two games will pit them against Brown (8-18-1, 6-14-0) and Yale (24-2-1, 17-2-1), the current No. 1 seed in the ECAC and the Crimson's most likely playoff opponent.
If Harvard wants to create a Cinderella run in the playoffs, it's now or never.
"We have a gut check for our team right now with regard to the remainder of the season and how hard we are going to play for each other," Stone said.
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