The No. 2 Yale women’s hockey team (28–2–1, 19–2–1 ECAC) defeated Harvard University (7–21–3, 6–13–3 ECAC) twice this weekend to advance to the ECAC Semifinals. 

After defeating the Crimson handily last weekend, the Bulldogs came into the weekend confident, but Harvard proved to be a difficult out when it came to playoffs. The Bulldogs were the only team to sweep their quarterfinal matchup as they won 4–2 and 4–0 against Harvard on Friday and Saturday.

“Last year that was a very talented team and they still are,” captain Claire Dalton ’23 said. “For us to take them down, we lost to them in the playoffs two years ago so it’s just like a rivalry and then obviously just Yale-Harvard in general is a big thing.”

In both the 4–2 victory in game one and then the 4–0 win in the deciding game two, the Bulldogs were led by the strong performances of two players in both the team’s offensive and defensive zones.

Forward Grace Lee ’24, who entered the weekend with only one goal on the season, exploded onto the scoresheet in a massive way for Yale in the quarterfinal matchup.

Lee emerged as the hero for the Bulldogs after scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of game one when she buried a rebound from the front of the goal.

However, Lee wasn’t finished with the Crimson, as she once again scored the game-winning goal in game two and then added a third goal of the weekend for good measure as she and the Bulldogs ended Harvard’s season. 

Lee, who played her first year with the Bulldogs during the 2019 season, stands with her fellow veteran players as those that have seen the transformation of the program in recent years. 

“My class, along with Coach Bolding (who was hired before the start of our sophomore year), has been working hard to build YWIH into a program that is a perennial contender,” senior defenseman Emma Seitz ’23 told the News earlier this season. “We take a lot of pride in that journey and are excited to hopefully take the program to new heights.”

The second player who stood out for the Bulldogs was goaltender Pia Dukaric ’25, who stymied the Crimson all weekend and posted her program record eighth shutout of the season in Game Two. 

The Crimson only managed to put a combined 41 shots on goal in the two games while the Bulldogs peppered the opposite net with 45 shots in game one and 54 in game two. While the goalie was not called on to do much, Dukaric made some big saves in crucial moments to help her team to victory.

Despite it being the sophomore’s first playoff experience starting in goal, Dukaric has been praised by her teammates and coaches all year for her veteran approach to the game. 

“Pia’s a veteran already, she’s a little bit older, she knows what’s at stake and she prepares well so that’s a load off our shoulders,” head coach Mark Bolding said. “She will already be mentally ready. I think we’re gonna work on some basics, playoffs are gonna have a lot of dirty goals, traffic, screens, so we’ll work on some of those things but she prepares really really well so it’s a blessing.”

The Bulldogs now get to rest up and scout their opponents, as they’ll face off with the fourth-seeded Clarkson Knights next weekend. As the top seed in the ECAC Playoffs, Yale will also get the advantage of hosting both the semifinals and finals at Ingalls Rink.

The results of this weekend set the Yale program record for wins in a season, as the team currently sits at 28 wins so far this year. 

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.