As regular season finales go, this one was less than memorable.
But luckily for the women’s hockey team, the season will go on for at least one more week.
The Elis (9-17-3, 3-12-1 ECAC-North) lost two on the road, being blanked by No. 6 Brown (20-7-2, 12-3-1), 9-0 Saturday after falling Friday to No. 10 Harvard (16-10-2, 9-5-2) in an 8-2 game. The Bulldogs still managed to hang on to the seventh seed in the upcoming ECAC playoffs, however, and will return to Providence for a best-of-three series against the Bears this weekend.
“We may have gotten beaten badly this weekend, but I think everyone on the team wants to go up to Providence and make amends,” said forward Wallis Finger ’04, who picked up a goal in the Harvard game.
It won’t be easy for the Bulldogs after Saturday’s shutout.
The Elis entered the second period down only 2-0 after a strong opening period in which Kristy Zamora and Katie Lafleur tallied goals for Brown at 6:54 and 16:34.
The second was a different story, however, as the Elis were overpowered by Brown both physically and on the scoreboard. Brown exploded for five goals, with Zamora adding her second of the game and Krissy McManus putting two past Yale goalie Nicolette Franck ’04, who finished with 24 saves. Jessica Link and Kim Insalaco also picked up goals.
“We weren’t getting to the puck first in our end and that made it extremely difficult for the team to get the puck out of the zone,” said forward Erin Duggan ’05, who was forced to watch the game from the sidelines after being injured in Friday’s Harvard game. Her absence in addition to that of forward Nicole Symington ’05 forced the team to reshuffle the line configurations.
“With Duggan and Symington out of the line-up, we only had seven forwards and five defenders,” said forward Deanna McDevitt ’03, who has been linemates with both this season. “This definitely hurt the chemistry of the lines. We couldn’t generate any offense and every shift, we were playing with different people.”
Unfortunately, this is a situation which has become standard practice for this season’s injury-riddled Bulldogs.
“We’ve been a little snake-bitten with not having everyone available,” said Yale head coach John Marchetti. “We’ve moved past that. We’ve gotten used to the idea that we don’t have as many players as everyone else.”
Third period goals from Link and Insalaco extended the Bears’ lead to 9-0, and Brown goalie Pam Dreyer made sure that Yale stayed off the scoreboard. Although the Bulldogs gave up nine goals to the Bears, Marchetti noted that only one of them was a result of Brown’s unique defensive-zone coverage in which one of the Bears’ wings stays high and behind the Yale defenders who are set up at the point.
Last time the Bulldogs played Brown, they were burned multiple times by the resultant breakaways that the system caused. Even though Brown was not as successful in scoring off the floater, they were still able to stymie Yale’s offense.
“They forced us to play 4 on 4 in their end which minimized any pressure we had on them,” Duggan said.
Captain Katie Hirte ’02 recorded 17 saves in the third period for the Bulldogs.
Friday, Yale faced off against Harvard and cost itself the game with a lackluster first period. The Cantabs scored three times in the first five minutes with two goals from Nicole Corriero and one from Ali Crum, and Corriero completed her natural hat trick ten minutes later at 14:55.
“Our confidence just dropped at that point,” Marchetti said. “I’ve got to give Harvard some credit, they worked hard and out-hustled us. When a team out-hustles you your chances of being successful are slim to none.”
At 15:42, Eli defender Kirsten Wick ’05 connected with Yale leading scorer McDevitt, who evaded Harvard defenders and put the puck past Harvard goaltender Alison Kuusisto. Hirte was also credited with an assist on what was only the second shot of the period for the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t play very well at all,” McDevitt said. “We weren’t ready to play against Harvard. We fought to get back into the game but they were just moving their feet a lot faster.”
Corriero scored her fourth at 9:55 of the second period, and Katherine Sweet and Mina Pell contributed to give the Crimson an insurmountable 7-1 lead despite Finger’s breakaway goal off assists from Sarah Wood ’02 and Amy LeClair ’03. Sweet capped off Harvard’s win with her second goal of the game at 11:56 of the third period.
“Credit has to be given to our goalies, who were under constant pressure and were forced to make save after save,” Finger said. Hirte finished with 26 saves after two periods, and Franck added 10 in the third period.
The Bulldogs will spend this week regrouping, recovering from injuries, and preparing for Brown’s physical play against the boards and unorthodox system. Marchetti hopes that when the Elis travel to Rhode Island Friday night, they will do so with a fresh outlook.
“This weekend’s games were important because hopefully they will teach us a valuable lesson in preparation,” he said. “It’s important even this late in the season because in the playoffs, it’s a whole new season.”