The women’s hockey team knows it is not always the people you expect who end up making history.
The Elis (7-10-5, 4-5-4 ECACHL) broke a 41-game, two-decade-long losing streak to Dartmouth this weekend, besting the Big Green (9-9-2, 6-6-1), 1-0, in Hanover Friday behind Danielle Kozlowski’s ’09 first career goal. They did not stop there, tying No. 7 Harvard (10-7-4, 7-3-4), 1-1, in Cambridge Saturday afternoon to end a 25-year drought at Bright Hockey Center.
Maggie Westfal ’09, the forward-turned-defender who scored Yale’s only goal Saturday, said she couldn’t be happier to see the 5-foot-1 Kozlowski score the Bulldogs’ biggest goal of the year.
“It was awesome,” Westfal said. “Danielle is one of the hardest workers on our team. Even though she’s one of the smallest people on the ice in any given game she goes harder on the boards than anyone else. To see her score in such a big game is great — she deserved it.”
But the Bulldogs’ success was due to more than Westfal and Kozlowski’s goals. Sarah Love ’06, the Elis veteran goaltender, was in top form this weekend. The pre-season All-American has stopped 96 of the past 97 shots she’s faced, giving up the sole goal on a Harvard power play Saturday.
Love said she is in the metaphorical zone.
“I’m just feeling really good in the goal,” she said. “My coaches have been working with me the last few weeks, reminding me of little things I could be doing better that would help myself and the team. I’ve elevated my game the past couple weeks, and so has the team, which is really exciting. We’re setting ourselves up for a great finish.”
Love’s play in net was especially important at the end of Friday’s game. Kozlowski’s goal had put the Bulldogs up 1-0 at 15:32 in the first, but the Big Green had been coming on strong all game, peppering Love with shots. As the end of the third period approached, the Big Green pulled their goalie for an extra skater and Danielle Grundy put a shot on goal. But Love would not be denied the win, and lunged for the kick save, ending the Dartmouth threat. The Big Green would end the game with 33 shots on goal — 10 more than Yale — but nothing to show for it besides a tattered winning streak.
Westfal didn’t hesitate to credit her goalie.
“Sarah played two of her best games I’ve been a part of,” she said. “She made a few saves in the Dartmouth game that absolutely saved the game for us.”
Even though they were psyched to end their losing streak to Dartmouth, the Bulldogs were no less excited at the chance to pick up their first points in Cambridge in 25 years.
But the Harvard game was characterized more by constant whistles than anything else.
The Elis had three goals called back by officials over the course of the game and had to settle for a tie despite outplaying, outshooting and apparently outscoring the Cantabs. In addition to the three no-goals, the referees assessed 26 penalty minutes during the course of the game.
The first two seeming Yale goals came at the end of the first period during a Yale five-on-three. But the ref lost sight of the first one in a struggle in front of the net and blew the whistle before the puck crossed the goal line, while the second was called off for high-sticking.
Early in the second period, the Crimson grabbed the lead on a power play. A wide-open Jennifer Raimondi beat Love after corralling a clutch pass from Jenny Brine.
As the game progressed, the Bulldogs showered Harvard goalie Brittany Martin with shots on and off the power play, but could not even the score.
The breakthrough finally came with just under six minutes left in the second. Westfal took an initial shot on a power-play, but it went through the crowd in front of the net and squirted out to defender Kelsey Johnson ’07, who passed it out to Westfal and went in with forward Kristin Savard ’07 to screen Martin. When Westfal took her second shot, it sailed over Martin’s pads and tied up the game.
But even Westfal’s goal and Love’s consistently superb play could not end the Bulldogs’ frustration. With 50 seconds left in overtime, yet another apparent goal was called off because the official lost sight of the puck.
Kozlowski said the Elis’ disappointment at the tie with nationally-ranked Harvard shows just how far the program has come.
“A few years ago it would have been a victory to have tied Harvard,” she said. “But now we’re disappointed because we know we’re better than them now. Even the Harvard coach said, ‘Well, you guys had three goals that were called back.’ We knew we should have won because we played better than them.”
Now solidly positioned in the eighth and final playoff spot in the 11-team ECAC, the Elis will hope for two wins against 3-18-1 Union next weekend at home to vault ahead of seventh-place Dartmouth in the standings and make a run at home-ice advantage in the playoffs. But Love said that while the Bulldogs are looking forward, they are also enjoying their successes.
“It took us 10 tries as seniors to beat Dartmouth, but we finally did it,” she said. “To do it in their building is awesome, and then to come out and play Harvard so well was a great feeling.”