A weekend that was supposed to be an opportunity to move back into the national rankings has instead left the women’s hockey team grasping at straws.
On Sunday, the Elis (1-3-2, 1-1-1 ECACHL) folded to No. 6 New Hampshire (6-2-0), 5-2. The loss capped a weekend already soured by the team’s inability to beat then-No. 10 Boston College (3-2-4) Friday even though they outshot the Eagles 38-27. Despite dominating offensively, the Elis barely managed a 1-1 tie.
After this weekend’s not-so-pleasant vacation from ECAC action, the Elis will return to league play next weekend, hosting perennial national heavyweights Harvard and Dartmouth. Goalie Sarah Love ’06 said that if the Bulldogs hope to compete, they will have to go back to the basics.
“We need to … focus on the small things like back checking, getting the puck deep in the offensive zone, and having people screen the goalie,” Love said.
It was basics, such as special teams play, that tripped up the Bulldogs in Sunday’s loss. The game opened auspiciously enough for the Bulldogs, who had more than a minute of 5-on-3 midway through the first frame. But the Yale power play unit could not convert, and when it came time for a UNH power play at 14:13, it only took the Wildcats’ Nicole Hokie 21 seconds to score.
Yale got another opportunity to even the score late in the first, but the Elis’ special teams were denied again. UNH doubled its lead to 2-0 early in the next period before Sheila Zingler ’07 put the Bulldogs right back in the game with the team’s first tally.
But any hopes of a Yale comeback started to fade midway through the second. The Wildcats’ Amy McLaughlin scored a shorthanded goal at 9:43, backhanding the eventual game-winner past goalie Shivon Zilis ’08.
From then on, the outcome seemed almost a foregone conclusion. New Hampshire scored yet again only 25 seconds into the third period, and the 4-1 lead made Zingler’s second tally, little more than three minutes later, seem futile.
Forward Jenna Spring ’07 said Zingler’s play was lifting the entire team.
“She’s contributing right now,” Spring said. “That’s the effort we need to be successful. We played very well against BC, and I think we’re going to see results soon.”
Despite Zingler’s herculean efforts, the Elis couldn’t get anything going in the third, and UNH sealed the deal with an empty-netter with a little more than a minute to play.
Zilis said the Elis took some important lessons from the weekend’s play.
“We had a tough weekend because we were playing two nationally-ranked teams,” she said. “Despite the fact we didn’t get a win out of it, we put a solid 60 minutes in against both teams. As long as we put it together in the end, we really can beat any team.”
Friday’s game did not have the 32 minutes of combined penalties that Sunday’s did, but it managed to be exciting anyway. The Bulldogs had spent last week in practice focusing on starting strong, and they came out for the weekend’s first game ready to play. Boston College scored at 12:56 into the first, but the Bulldogs spent the entire game pouring on the offense, forcing the Eagles’ Johanna Ellison to make 37 saves.
But it was not until Yale head coach Hilary Witt pulled Love late in the third that the Elis could get anything past Ellison. Kristin Savard ’07 scored on the extra-man opportunity.
Love was less than impressed by the Bulldogs’ one-goal performance.
“[Ellison] played a strong game, but that’s not an excuse to only score one goal,” she said. “We played our hearts out against BC, but we couldn’t finish.”
The Eagles were certainly hungry in front of the net in overtime, and a Stephanie Olchowski shot with two seconds left on the clock almost saw the game end in heartbreak for the home team. But Love lunged to make a stupendous kick save to preserve the tie.
“Sarah kept us in as always,” Zilis said.
The Elis’ senior netminder played down her accomplishments.
“Part of being a goalie is having quick reflexes,” she said. “I was in position, and I was able to get my pad quickly down to the ice. To lose the game with under two seconds to go in overtime would have been heartbreaking.”
Two-sport athletes Crysti Howser ’09 and Maggie Westfal ’09 will spend at least another weekend shooting soccer balls, not hockey pucks. The women’s soccer team’s last-minute win over No. 10 Duke in the second round of the NCAA College Cup Sunday means that their colder-weather counterparts will have to continue playing a line down for the foreseeable future.
Love said missing Howser and Westfal could be a blessing in disguise.
“The experience they are gaining by playing in the NCAA tournament will really help them when they eventually join our team,” she said.