On Feb. 15, in arguably its finest performance of the season, the women’s hockey team knocked off then-nationally ranked No. 8 Princeton.
It was a point of inspiration, of motivation, and most importantly, of what Yale needed to do when it took the ice against Princeton in the quarterfinals of the ECAC tournament March 7.
“We knew we could win against Princeton,” Kaitlin Porcaro ’03 said. “We knew what we had to do going into the weekend. We had beaten them before.”
But Yale was unable to do it again. Third-seeded Princeton staved off sixth-seeded Yale in the best-of-three series, 2-0, and advanced to the semifinals, falling to nationally ranked No. 3 Dartmouth.
Yale was out of sync the entire weekend, unable to stop or score goals. Yale’s most recent play against Princeton bore more resemblance to its Feb. 14 play, when the Tigers routed the Elis 6-2, than to its Feb. 15 play.
In Game 1, Princeton scored three second-period goals to break open a 1-1 tie and outdistance Yale. Deena Caplette ’06 narrowed the lead to 4-2 at 9:09 in the third period with her ninth goal of the season, but the Tigers roared back with two more goals for the 6-2 win.
“We played really hard and with our hearts and never gave up,” Porcaro said. “We gave it our all, but Princeton kept putting pucks in the net, and we didn’t.”
What Yale had hoped to be a defensive-minded matchup turned into a high-scoring shoot-out and the Elis, whose offense has struggled most of the season, could not keep up with the Tigers. Princeton dominated play, outshooting Yale, 36-16.
Sarah Love ’06, who had her hands full with a potent Princeton offense, finished with 30 saves. It was Love who lifted the Elis to their Feb. 15 win over the Tigers. But she and the rest of the Yale defense could not stop the Andrea Kilbourne-Nikola Holmes duo, which accounted for four of Princeton’s six goals.
Love was named to the ECAC rookie team for her strong season.
Game 2 was too much of the same for Yale. Princeton, up 1-0 at the first intermission, raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second period and never looked back. Six different Tigers scored en route to an 8-0 trouncing.
“The second game was a little more disheartening, just because of the score,” Nicole Symington ’05 said. “We just couldn’t convert.”
Missed opportunities and defensive lapses hurt Yale. The Bulldogs had plenty of chances, including 11 power plays, but could not produce a goal.
“It was extremely rough, but we held our own,” Porcaro said. “It’s hard to pinpoint one thing we did wrong, we just didn’t get it done.”
Despite their early departure from the tournament, the Elis were pleased with their season.
“We definitely had a lot of successes,” Symington said. “We finished ahead of expectations, tallied two Ivy League wins and set the stage for a huge turnaround next season.”