Two very different games took place at Ingalls Rink this weekend as the women’s hockey team played Union and RPI on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Friday’s game saw the Bulldogs (1-8-0, ECAC 1-5-0) fight from behind to even the scoreboard against the Dutchwomen (3-9-1, ECAC 1-4-1) and win their first game of the season 3-2 in overtime.
And it was no doubt an emotionally charged win: former team member Mandi Schwartz’s ’11 parents were in the stands this weekend, watching their first Bulldog games since Schwartz passed away from cancer in April.
However, the Elis’ momentum did not last through Saturday’s game during which they fell progressively farther behind, eventually losing 0-5 to the Engineers (3-7-4, ECAC 1-3-2).
The two games were similar stories through the first 20 minutes of play: both games started with a disappointing first period for the Bulldogs, bringing them into the second down 1-0. On Friday, Union scored on one of its four power plays and took 14 shots on goal in contrast to Yale’s one; on Saturday, RPI scored on one of its two power plays and took 20 shots, whereas Yale took only seven.
But from the end of the first periods the two plots diverged.
“I’m so proud of how the team responded in the second and third periods,” head coach Joakim Flygh said after Friday’s game.
The Elis battled back with a high-energy second period on Friday and set forward Jackie Raines ’14 scored three minutes into play. The team played cleaner hockey, with only one penalty, and took 15 shots on goal, stifling Union to six and diminishing the shot disparity left over from the first period. The Dutchwomen managed to make good on one of those shots, bringing the game into the third period with the Bulldogs down 1-2.
Just one minute into the third period, team captain and forward Aleca Hughes ’12 came out strong and tied the game at two-all. A consistent effort from both teams kept the scoreboard constant through the remainder of the period, and the game went into overtime.
“When you’re down in the third period and your leader steps up and scores, that’s exactly what you want,” Flygh said, adding that Hughes’ goal rallied the team.
During the brief intermission before the overtime, Flygh said he told the team, “Let’s not settle, let’s battle for a win.”
And battle it did. Union took a penalty 30 seconds into the five-minute overtime period, giving forward Stephanie Mock ’15 the opportunity to set Raines up for her second goal of the game and fourth of the season.
“We were not going to accept anything less than a win,” goalie Genny Ladiges ’12 said. “We didn’t play three periods, but we made a comeback. It was nice to see that we had that in us.” Ladiges made 29 saves in the game.
Yale’s win against Union was a well-earned battle, as the team had many disadvantages. Four of the Bulldogs’ top defensemen are still out with injuries, which meant they had to play with half as many defenders as Union. Forward Ashley Dunbar ’14 stepped back to play defense and line-ups had to be shifted.
However, the team could not overcome its difficulties on Saturday afternoon: The flat first period led into a flatter second, with Yale taking two penalties and only three shots on goal. RPI was stronger offensively, taking 14 shots and scoring two goals.
“It was an emotional win for us [on Friday], and we couldn’t regroup,” Flygh said after Saturday’s loss. “We just didn’t have that same effort as Friday.”
Ladiges agreed that the team’s mental game was a main factor in the discrepancy between the games. She added that on Saturday the team could not rally from behind after the first period and that it was not playing “desperate hockey” like it was against Union.
By the third period, already up 3-0, the Engineers scored on a penalty shot and again on a power play. The Bulldogs never scored and were outshot 15-52. Ladiges played a strong game, however, making 47 saves.
Despite Saturday’s disappointing results, Friday got the Bulldogs out of their seven game losing streak, allowing them to make a mark in the Eastern College Athletic Conference standings with a win.
Hughes and Ladiges said that Rick and Carol Schwartz’s presence provided inspiration for the team, and perhaps brought it luck on Friday night.
“It’s a huge reminder of what we play for,” Hughes said after Friday’s game. “We play for Mandi, and it was very special to have [her parents] here.”
The Bulldogs will continue their season with back-to-back non-conference games at Mercyhurst on Friday and Saturday.