The Bulldogs were back on the road again this weekend and followed a familiar path — show up, play hard and watch the other team get lucky at the end.
Such is the fortune of the Elis, cursed to come so close to victory only to see it stripped from them.
That was the case when the Bulldogs (9-15, 5-12 ECAC) fell 2-1 to Harvard (12-4-2, 13-7-3) on a power-play goal in the third period on Friday. The next day, a last minute goal by No. 8 Dartmouth (16-6-2, 13-3-2) led to the Bulldogs’ second defeat, this time by a score of 3-2.
“We controlled the puck well in the offensive zone, and we were disciplined in the defensive zone,” captain and forward Sarah Tittman ’09 said. “Ultimately, Harvard and Dartmouth just got some lucky bounces.”
Going into the match on Friday night, the Elis felt as though they were prepared for the Crimson. “We’ve had a good week of practices and have spent a good amount of time going over video of Harvard, so we feel ready,” forward Crysti Howser ’09 said before the game.
Both teams played to a scoreless stalemate through the first two periods. Goalie Genny Ladiges ’12 recorded a career-high 37 saves on the evening, while Harvard goalie Christina Kessler had 27 of her own.
The draw was finally broken in the third period, but it was the Crimson that struck first. Forward Danielle Kozlowski ’09 was called for checking in the second minute of the period, and at 2:09, Cantab Cori Bassett scored to give Harvard a 1-0 lead.
The goal was subject to debate as the referees were unsure if the puck had crossed the goal line. The puck appeared to have hit something in the net and then bounced back out; although play continued for a few moments, the referees blew the play dead and gave the goal to Harvard.
The Elis were quick to respond, and at 8:37 forward Bray Ketchum ’11 scored the equalizer off an assist from fellow forward Caroline Murphy ’10.
The Crimson got their second goal on another power play — a point that proved to be the game winner. A tripping penalty by defender Samantha MacLean ’11 midway through the third gave Harvard its fifth power play of the game. The Crimson took advantage when Harvard forward Jenny Brine redirected the puck back on net after a rebound.
“Both teams came out strong in the third, but Harvard created some offense on their power plays, which was ultimately the difference,” Ladiges said.
The Bulldogs were back on the ice on Saturday afternoon. The Elis lost 5-2 the last time they faced the Big Green, so this time, they had something to prove.
“Against Dartmouth, we were definitely looking to avenge a tough loss from earlier over winter break,” Ladiges said. “Dartmouth is one of the top teams in the ECAC, but we felt that we matched up very well against them.”
Like the day before, the home team was the first to score, as Dartmouth’s Sarah Toupal put the Big Green on the board in the second minute of play. But the Elis countered quickly, and forward Aleca Hughes ’12 answered when she skated from the boards to the left circle and fired a shot past Dartmouth’s Carli Clemis.
The second period saw only one goal: A wrist shot by Ketchum deflected off the post, and defender Helen Resor ’09 hit the rebound on net to give the Elis a 2-1 lead.
But the last period took a turn for the worse, as both of Yale’s penalties in the game came in the middle of the third. The first power play for the Big Green resulted in a goal after Sarah Newnam hit a shot through traffic past Ladiges, drawing the score even at 2-2.
The Elis killed off the second power play later in the third, but in the last minutes of the period, the Big Green scored the final goal of the match. Reagan Fischer scored the game winner at 19:12, ending the contest at 3-2.
But head coach Hilary Witt said she was anything but disappointed in her players’ performance on the ice.
“This time we were up halfway through the third and down with 46 seconds to go. A lot of teams would collapse after that, and we would have collapsed after that in the past.” Witt said. “This time our kids stayed composed and had chances to tie it up in the end. We just missed, but it wasn’t due to a lack of trying or a lack of composure.”
After a tough stretch on the road, four of the Bulldogs’ last five regular season games will be at Ingalls Rink. Eight points out of the eighth and final ECAC playoff spot in post-season, the Elis are not out of the picture just yet, but they will need to play perfect hockey for the remainder of February to move up in the standings.
“We are just plugging away,” Witt said. “We have had some tough losses this season. I don’t think our record has spoken for our play. The kids have been competing hard. We just have to keep working hard.”