The football team may be winning its all-time series with Harvard, but the women’s ice hockey competition is all Cantabs.
Last year’s Yale team made history by besting the Cantabs for the first time in 20 years during the regular season and then taking them to overtime in the ECAC semifinals. This weekend the No. 6 Crimson (3-1-1, 2-1-1 ECAC) and historically dominant Dartmouth (3-3-0, 1-3-0) visit the Whale to face a Yale (1-3-2, 1-1-1) team still struggling to recapture last year’s magic.
Veteran goalkeeper and preseason All-American Sarah Love ’06 said the Bulldogs have a good chance of taking down their biggest rivals.
“Every team can be beat this year, especially Harvard,” Love said. “We have to play as a team for 60 minutes with everyone working their hardest and good things will happen.”
After their slow start, this weekend gives the Elis a unique chance to take down the elite teams of the Ivy League and show that last year’s miracle season was not a fluke. Yale is 9-103-2 all-time against its twin nemeses and nothing could jump-start the Bulldogs’ season better than wins this weekend.
Forward Kelsey Johnson ’07 said the Bulldogs don’t think too much about all-time records anyway.
“We don’t really focus on that kind of stuff,” Johnson said. “Everyone’s going into this weekend believing we can win and we’ve been working hard at practice to make sure we have the best chance to do so.”
If anything is certain about the Harvard matchup, it is that the Crimson team the Elis will be facing Friday will look nothing like the one they played last year. While the upcoming Winter Olympics mean that Yale’s Helen Resor ’09 will be absent from collegiate action this season, national team call-ups have affected the Harvard team far more. Six Harvard stars will be missing this season, busily training with the U.S. or Canadian national teams.
This year’s Crimson is also missing Nicole Correiro, who led the nation in nearly every offensive category and tied the all-time NCAA record for goals in a season (59) last year. But even with the Olympians gone and Correiro’s graduation, the Cantabs remain a formidable opponent.
Love said the missing Olympians should not be a reason to underestimate Harvard.
“Last year we beat Harvard despite their Olympic-caliber players, but that doesn’t mean this year is going to be easy,” she said. “Harvard works very hard and plays their systems well and we have to be ready.”
Harvard is not the only tough opponent the ECAC will be serving up for the Elis this weekend. As football fans are beginning to recover from a day of debauchery, the Bulldogs will take the ice late Saturday afternoon against Dartmouth.
Dartmouth comes into Ingalls looking to rebound from tough losses to No. 1 St. Lawrence and surprise No. 9 Clarkson, which also dealt Harvard its only loss this season. The Big Green is reeling from its first consecutive home-ice shut-outs in school history, and will be looking to take its frustration out on the Bulldogs.
But long-term history, not recent losses, will be the biggest factor working against the Bulldogs when they face the Big Green. The Elis are 3-54-1 against Dartmouth all-time, and the Big Green has won the past 40 consecutive games. If Yale can win Saturday, it will be the team’s first victory over Dartmouth since the Reagan administration.
Despite the visitors’ many strengths and historical dominance, the home-ice advantage and this year’s weaker Big Green and Crimson teams could spell victory for the Elis.
Love said home-ice support could be a boon for the team.
“Both soccer teams and the volleyball team have had tremendous fan support this year and we hope to have that kind of support at our games,” Love said. “During last year’s playoff games against Princeton we had amazing fan support, and we hope that will continue.”
Dartmouth, like Harvard, is hurting from graduation and national team call-ups, losing four players to each. The Elis, meanwhile, have returned most of their key players, including Love, forward Jenna Spring ’07, who led the team in points last season, and four of the team’s top five goal-scorers.
The Elis are eager to see soccer sensations Crysti Howser ’09 and Maggie Westfal ’09 join them on the ice, but Love said the hockey team was just as excited to see the soccer team succeed in the NCAA tournament.
“Everyone on the team is excited about Crysti and Maggie joining us,” Love said. “Right now we’re just wishing them luck in the tournament. Whether they win or lose against Notre Dame, we are very proud of them and we can’t wait to see them on the ice.”
History aside, the Bulldogs are counting on wins this weekend. Forward Sheila Zingler ’07 said the Elis’ team play and lack of stars will help them in the clutch.
“We’re planning on coming out with two wins at the end of the weekend,” Zingler said. “We have been focusing on our system, trying to get away from individual play. We don’t rely on just one or two players — or four or five or six players like in [Harvard and Dartmouth’s] case. We play as a team, and we’re more of a cohesive unit.”