Heading into this past weekend, just two points separated the fifth- through 10th-place teams in the women’s ECAC Hockey standings, including Yale. But after two tight road losses, the Bulldogs fell to 10th place with six weeks remaining for Yale to improve in conference play.
Despite an impressive comeback against Cornell (8–8–3, 4–5–3 ECAC) on Friday and a two-goal lead against Colgate (14–4–6, 6–2–4) on Saturday, neither resulted in any points for the Bulldogs, who could not build off a 5–2 victory over St. Lawrence on Jan. 9. With the pair of defeats, Yale (5–13–1, 4–7–1) is now 1–5 this calendar year, which has been a difficult stretch marked by four opponents ranked amongst the top 10 teams in the nation.
“I think we need to work on playing more disciplined team defense, and being able to put together a full 60 minutes of our best hockey,” captain and forward Janelle Ferrara ’16 said. “Our third period has to be better, and this upcoming weekend is a great chance for us to focus on that and get four points.”
Yale has allowed 23 goals over its past six games, and in its last five losses, the Elis have been outscored 8–1 in the third period.
On Friday, the Bulldogs met fellow Ivy league foe Cornell at Lynah Rink in Ithaca, New York. Despite Yale outshooting the Big Red 7–5 in the first period, the Elis quickly found themselves in a hole after a slew of Cornell shots beat goalkeeper Hanna Mandl ’17 within a four-minute span.
Before the first period had concluded, Yale faced a 3–0 deficit. Two of the Big Red’s three goals were scored by its two leading scorers, forwards Jess Brown and Pippy Gerace, and the offensive onslaught led to a change in net, with Kyra O’Brien ’19 taking Mandl’s place.
Brown’s goal, the first one for Cornell, resulted 47 seconds into the first power-play opportunity for either side, when defenseman Taylor Marchin ’17 was called for tripping. Yale was penalized three more times, and Cornell’s eventual go-ahead goal came in the third period on another power-play opportunity.
“We played some really great hockey for long stretches of time against Cornell, but ran into penalty trouble causing us to lose momentum at key moments in the game,” said forward Krista Yip-Chuck ’17.
Yet despite penalty trouble and falling behind early on, Yale stormed back in the second period. The tables turned as the Elis rocketed three shots of their own past Big Red goalkeeper Marlene Boissonnault.
Meanwhile, O’Brien held Cornell scoreless for the entirety of the second period in just her second career appearance.
“We did a good job moving the puck fast up the ice on turnovers and attacking the net with speed,” forward Hanna Åström ’16 said. “Another factor that contributed to our success in the second period was that we were more aggressive on the forecheck and were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for a longer time.”
Cornell and Yale then exchanged goals, and the score was locked at 4–4 with just five minutes remaining in the third period. However, a cross-checking penalty on forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 led to a quick strike for Cornell that proved decisive. It was again Brown who lit the lamp on the power play, and she followed that up with another score with less than a minute to play to earn her a hat trick and seal the Big Red victory.
“The game was a disappointment because we actually feel like we outplayed them and were the better team,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “But sometimes the better team doesn’t win.”
After the loss against Cornell, the Elis traveled to Hamilton, New York to challenge No. 10 Colgate in another ECAC battle.
This time around, the first period saw Yale jump out to a quick start. In the first four minutes, Yale scored two goals — one by Ferrara and the second by defenseman Julia Yetman ’19 on a power play.
“We tightened it up defensively for Colgate and moved the puck well,” Ferrara said. “We were able to get the lead early on in the game and pushed the pace for the rest of it.”
Before the first period ended, the Raiders pushed back against the Bulldogs. Colgate’s leading scorer Bailey Larson collected the puck from teammate Cat Quirion to put their team on the board.
Larson beat O’Brien, who set up in between the pipes for her first career start. By the end of the second period, O’Brien had denied 19 of Colgate’s 22 shot attempts in a game that entered the third period tied at 3–3.
“It was really exciting to have my first start against Colgate,” O’Brien said. “Although I was nervous, once the game started I felt more confident and comfortable.”
Early on in the final period, Yale failed to capitalize on a power-play opportunity, despite five unanswered shots.
Those five were indicative of a theme in the third period, as the Bulldogs outshot the Raiders 13–4 in the period.
“We needed to finish on the offensive opportunities that we had earlier on,” Haddad said.
For more than 18 minutes in the final frame, neither side could push ahead, but with 1:33 remaining in the contest, Raider forward Megan Sullivan scored her eighth goal of the season to earn Colgate the victory.
Yale head coach Joakim Flygh called a time out for the Bulldogs immediately following the goal and soon thereafter pulled O’Brien from the cage. Though Yale mustered three shots within the last minute and half of the game, none found the back of the net for an equalizer.
“In order for us to win, we have to stay disciplined throughout the entire game,” Åström said. “I believe we were the better team in both games this weekend. I know that if we only stay disciplined and play our style of hockey, we could go undefeated for the rest of the regular season. It is all up to us at this point.”
Yale returns to Ingalls Rink this weekend to kick off a stretch of three consecutive home games, beginning Friday night against Union at 7 p.m.