Even the mighty must fall.

So hopes the women’s hockey team, which takes on last season’s national runner-up Harvard (2-0-0), ranked third in the latest USCHO.com poll, and No. 8 Brown (3-1-0) Friday and Saturday, respectively. Coming off of a tough 9-1 loss at the hands of No. 2 Dartmouth, the Elis hope to rebound in what will likely be their toughest weekend of the season.

“Good teams can rebound after a tough loss,” defender Sheila Zingler ’07 said. “We are looking to have a successful weekend, but we’ve got to work hard and put the puck in the net.”

Due to tougher refereeing of so-called “clutch-and-grab” defense, the number of penalties assessed has increased this season. The Elis will need to make the adjustment and capitalize on their power-plays, an emphasis in this week’s practices. Whereas most teams rely on a few key players for their power-play rotation, the Bulldogs are hoping to use their depth as an advantage.

“We’ve been working the power play a lot, giving everyone some experience running it,” forward Ali Turney ’05 said.

But the calls go both ways, and the Eli women frequently found themselves on the short end of the stick against Dartmouth. Last year, one of the Bulldogs’ strengths was their penalty kill unit, which not only prevented other teams from scoring, but also netted several shorthanded goals. This weekend, the Elis will have to excel at the penalty kill, using the momentum gained from an evenly-played third period against Dartmouth.

“We’ve killed off several three-on-fives over the past couple games, so we just have to keep doing that,” Turney said.

The penalty kill will need to take care of the Bears’ main offensive playmaker, Jessica Link, who has three assists, all coming in power-play situations, and top-scorer Krissy McManus. Harvard has been successful on nearly 20 percent of their power-plays and boasts the second-ranked offense in the ECAC, but they could be stymied this weekend by the absence of their top three forwards. Julie Chu and Sarah Vaillancourt will compete in the Four Nations’ Cup, the showdown between the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden in Lake Placid, N.Y. Sarah Johnston, who also plays soccer for Harvard, will be competing with her other team in the NCAA Championship. Just a freshman, Vaillancourt is tied for the team lead in points with three goals and two assists. The Crimson will have to rely offensively on Nicole Corriero (3-2-5) and Ashley Banfield (1-4-5).

But the Elis hope to be the ones lighting the lamp Friday night, by combining a solid defensive effort and creating havoc for Crimson goaltender Ali Boe.

“Even though we like to play a tight defensive game, we need to put more pucks in the net,” forward Nicole Symington ’05 said. “We can’t expect to win games scoring only once. If we get more traffic in front of the net and make better decisions shooting the puck, we should have more success.”

In the Bears’ only loss, a 2-1 decision to No. 7 New Hampshire, Brown showed prowess in the first period but faltered over the remainder of the game. Although the Bulldogs hope to start strong against both Harvard and Brown, a late-game surge would not hurt. But the best bet for beating both teams will be a solid 60 minutes of effort.

“We have to come out strong from the beginning,” Turney said. “When we don’t, things like Dartmouth happen. We need to play like we have nothing to lose for the entire game, instead of waiting for the third period or until we get down by a couple goals.”

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