Courtesy of Yale Athletics

The No. 5 Yale women’s hockey team (26–8–1, 16–5–1 ECAC) faced off against No. 4 Colgate (30–8–1, 16–5–1) in the NCAA regional finals on Saturday after falling 2–1 to the Raiders in a heartbreaking overtime loss in the ECAC finals.

When the buzzer rang after 60 minutes of regulation play on Saturday, fans felt some déjà vu as the score was knotted at one. Tess Dettling ’22 rewrote history as she hit the puck into the back of the net to send her team to the Frozen Four for the first time in program history. 

“I looked at the bench and gloves were flying. The lights were going. It’s insane. It’s a moment to remember,” senior goalie Gianna Meloni ’22 said of Dettling’s game-winning goal.

This season, the NCAA expanded the bracket from eight to 11 teams, which allowed for the first five seeds to receive a bye, including No. 4 Colgate and No. 5 Yale. 

This is the fourth time the two ECAC rivals have faced each other this season, with the Bulldogs going 2–0 in the regular season against the Raiders and then falling in the ECAC tournament. While Colgate looked to build off its momentum from its ECAC Championship win, Yale proved that last week’s game was simply a blip on the radar.

After the puck dropped in Hamilton, NY, both teams struggled to maintain control of the puck. Yale managed to find its footing first and opened up the scoring in the regional final game after a little over eight minutes of play.

Rookie Vita Poniatovskaia ’25 scored from the top of the left circle. Poniatovskaia’s shot came off of a great look from Elle Hartje ’24 at the bottom of the right circle. Rebecca Vanstone ’23 started the play with a solid rush through the neutral zone eventually getting the puck to Hartje. 

Just 10 seconds after the Bulldogs’ goal, the Raiders’ defenseman Taylor Kirwan got two minutes for roughing. Yale’s Emma Seitz ’23 managed to get one shot off on the power play before Colgate gained possession and got a short-handed shot on goal. 

With 44 seconds remaining in Yale’s powerplay, captain Greta Skarzynski ’22 was sent to the penalty box for holding. The Elis fought off the penalty and secured a solid scoring chance on the penalty kill.

Colgate forward Kaitlyn O’Donohoe crashed the net to tie the game at one with less than two minutes to go in the first period.

The score remained 1–1 for the rest of regulation.

Despite there being no changes on the scoreboard, the latter 40 minutes saw plenty of action. In the second period, the Bulldogs found themselves shorthanded after Tabea Botthof ’23 got two minutes for checking. On the penalty kill, Charlotte Welch ’23 had a breakaway, but was stonewalled by the Raiders’ freshman goalie Hannah Murphy. 

The second period also saw a Colgate goal get called off after a player kicked the puck past Meloni. The Yale goalie was a brick wall during Saturday’s game as she stopped 28 of the 29 shots she faced. This season, Meloni saved 120 of the 123 shots she faced against Colgate, including the first 73.

“Gianna gives us so much confidence in big games like today when she is making so many key saves down the stretch,” Dettling said of Meloni. “She makes it super easy to trust that she’ll make big saves for us when we need it.”

While Yale beat Colgate 32–20 on faceoffs, the Raiders had a 29–22 advantage in shots. 

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, head coach Mark Bolding called a timeout hoping to end the game in regulation time.

“It was really a tense game, but we knew it was going to be,” Bolding said. “There were so many good offensive chances by both teams with great goaltending. I’m so proud of how we worked and found a way to do it. This is really a great moment for the program.”

The match needed extra time, but not much. Two minutes into the overtime period, Dettling shot the puck past Murphy after she followed up on the rebound on a shot from Emma DeCorby ’25.

No. 1 Ohio State beat Quinnipiac 4–3 in double overtime Saturday to secure its spot in the semifinals against Yale. The last time the Bulldogs and Buckeyes met was during the 2004-05 season.

“Right now we are all just soaking this in,” Dettling said. “Given that OSU is a team that we haven’t seen this year, we’ll have to prepare a little bit more and look at some extra video throughout the week to get to know their style of play.”

Yale will compete against Ohio State on Friday, March 18 in University Park, Pa. for the Frozen Four semifinals. The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.

Rosa Braceras covers Women’s Ice Hockey, Softball, and other sports news. She is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in History.