After years of missing out, the women’s hockey team will get a chance to be a part of every team’s desired destination: the post-season.
After securing the seventh seed in the ECAC-North, the underdog Bulldogs (10-17-2, 9-11-2 ECAC-N) will travel to Providence, R.I., Friday to face No. 5 Brown (14-13-2, 10-10-2 ECAC-N) at 7:00 p.m. in the first game of the two teams’ best-of-three series.
Despite Yale’s less-than-impressive history against a deep and strong Brown squad, no one, especially the players on the team, is writing the Elis out of the playoff equation.
“We know we’ve got a tough road through Brown,” said head coach John Marchetti. “But we feel we can do it, and that’s where it starts and ends.”
It won’t be easy for Yale. The Bears beat the Elis twice during the regular season by scores of 9-3 and 9-0.
“Our opposition, in both games, proved — that they wanted to win more than we did,” said goaltender Nicolette Franck ’04 after last weekend’s games. “But that does not mean we cannot be that team this weekend.”
For the Bulldogs, losing big to Brown in two regular season games may prove to be valuable this weekend, because the Elis have been able to see where they need to control the Bears’ unique method of play.
While playing in its defensive zone, Brown dispatches one of its forwards to set up high and behind the Yale defenders instead of guarding them. While this is a risky play that could lead to open shots for Yale, Brown has perfected the system and is adept at making the long pass that leads to a Bear breakaway.
“We need to be able to play a better system that can counter or neutralize their floater,” said Marchetti.
Led by leading scorers Deanna McDevitt ’03 (35 points) and Erin Duggan ’05 (33 points), the Eli offense will need to capitalize on its own opportunities in front of the Brown goal, which is guarded well by last week’s ECAC Goaltender of the Week Katie Germain. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs had several scoring chances in the first period that they did not connect on, and their lack of output set them back for the rest of the game.
After playing without the freshman tandem of Duggan and Nicole Symington ’05, both of whom have made names for themselves in their rookie campaigns, the Elis will benefit from having a full and healthy team just in time to open the postseason.
“Adding those two players will make us a different team as we go up to Providence,” Marchetti said, but he added that Symington is still listed as day-to-day.
Starting defenders Kaitlin Porcaro ’03 and Amy LeClair ’03 must continue their solid work at the blue line, even with the added distraction of Brown’s high forward.
In the Vermont game which the Elis won 6-1, the pair took a number of shots from the point, which opened up the Yale offense.
They will need to play tough defense against Brown offensive threats such as Kristy Zamora, who has accumulated 47 points, and Kim Insalaco, who has 33.
As has been the case all season, two Bulldog goaltenders will likely split time in net. Franck and team captain Katie Hirte ’02 have combined for a save percentage of .876 and provided consistent play from which to build on, but have had to face more shots than Marchetti would like.
“We really have to play better in our own zone overall, protecting our goalie and getting to loose pucks,” he said.
The best-of-three series will begin Friday night at 7 p.m.
The winner of the series goes on to the ECAC-North final four, hosted by Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H.