After enduring its first winless weekend of the new year, the Yale women’s hockey team this weekend will look for a better result against two equally challenging opponents.
Last week the Elis (9–12–4, 7–9–2 ECAC) fell 4–2 to No. 8 St Lawrence and then 2–1 to defending national champion No. 1 Clarkson. This weekend, they face two more nationally ranked conference foes, matching up against No. 4 Colgate (25–4–1, 15–3–0) and No. 6 Cornell (15–7–3, 11–5-2), and try to earn some much-needed points in their penultimate weekend of games.
“[This weekend’s games are] both big games for Ivy and ECAC points [against] two very good teams where we are going to have to be very disciplined to have success,” head coach Joakim Flygh said. “These are fun games to play, and we look forward to the challenge.”
Yale currently sits tied with Harvard for seventh place and thus owns a playoff spot. With Rensselaer just two points behind, however, the Elis will need to pick up some points in their last four games, all of which come against teams higher up in the conference standings. Yale will need better results than earlier in the season against Colgate and Cornell, who beat the Bulldogs 5–1 and 3–0, respectively, back in November.
Both games last weekend saw Yale fall behind early and then attempt, unsuccessfully, to claw its way back. St. Lawrence got out to a 4–0 lead in the second period, and despite a two-goal Yale rally, the Elis could not surmount the deficit. The Clarkson game had a much closer final score, but again the Bulldogs allowed their opponents to jump out to an early lead, as the Golden Knights found themselves up 2–0 midway through the game. If the Elis hope to have success against Colgate and Cornell this weekend, they will need to get off to strong starts in both games.
“We have struggled with starting games off confidently,” defender Mallory Souliotis ’18 said. “If we are able to come out in the first period and push the pace, even get the lead, then it will put us in a really good position as we get deeper into the game. We are definitely a better team than when we first played them. We have improved, and our team chemistry has never been better. We are much more confident in ourselves, and I know that we will be able to compete with both Cornell and Colgate this weekend.”
Yale will first travel to Ithaca to face the Big Red, which sits third in the ECAC. Last time, the Bulldogs could not solve Cornell netminder Marlene Boissonault, who shut the door to the Elis’ measly 15 shots on goal. The Big Red took 33 shots to score three times, twice in the second period and once in the final frame.
Cornell enters this weekend not having lost in four games. The Big Red last fell to top-ranked Clarkson in a narrow 4–3 loss, before earning a sound 4–1 victory over St. Lawrence. But it tied Harvard 2–2 last weekend, a week after the Crimson fell to Yale 3–2 at Ingalls Rink. The Big Red’s last two matches have both been decisive wins, as it defeated Dartmouth and Syracuse 3–1 and 5–0, respectively.
Offensively, the Bulldogs will need to put up a strong performance at even-strength against Cornell to succeed. Yale has previously benefited from goals scored on the player advantage by its fourth-in-the-nation power-play squad. This time, however, it will face the nation’s most effective penalty kill.
The following day, Yale will then face Colgate in the tougher of the two games on paper. The Raiders will be a challenge at both ends of the ice; the team is fourth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 3.73 goals a game, and boasts the nation’s fifth best defense. The Bulldogs, who scored just three goals in two games last weekend, will be challenged offensively by another top defense and strong goaltender in Julia Vandyk, who is eighth in the country in save percentage and sixth in goals against average.
However, the game against Clarkson showed that Yale’s stellar goaltending and solid defense can contain even the most potent offenses. The Golden Knights entered the contest averaging over four goals per game, but were held to just two goals by netminder Gianna Meloni ’21, who Yale will doubtless rely upon heavily to help keep the Raiders at bay.
“I think the Clarkson game especially showed that we can be successful against a top team if we stay out of our own way and don’t make the kinds of mistakes that our opponents can take advantage of,” forward Emma Vlasic ’19 said. “We need to build on that loss and go into these weekend’s games with confidence knowing that we can win against good teams if we put our best foot forward.”
Yale plays Cornell at 6 p.m. on Friday and Colgate at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday.
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