The women’s hockey team was in a giving mood over the holiday break as it surrendered eighteen goals in only five contests, going 2-3 over that stretch. The porous defensive trend continued this weekend as the Red suffered a 6-2 defeat at St. Lawrence and 4-1 loss at Clarkson.
On Friday night, the second place St. Lawrence Saints (16-7, 9-2 ECAC Hockey) skated to an early 3-0 lead on its home ice.
“It was frustrating, but we didn’t come out the way we wanted to initially,” said senior co-captain Caeleigh Beerworth. “We have to start playing our game better and clicking defensively.”
It was not until the second period that Cornell (8-9-1, 5-6-1 ECAC Hockey) registered its only two goals of the game. The first goal came a mere 43 seconds into the period as Beerworth took the pass from fellow senior co-captain Brittany Forgues and slipped it past senior goaltender Meaghan Guckian for her fifth goal of the season.
“There was a neutral zone scrum,” Beerworth said. “Brittany [Forgues] came out with the puck. It was a two-on-zero and she passed it over and I scored.”
Sophomore forward Liz Zorn netted her 11th goal of the season at the 4:59 mark of the second period to trim the Saints’ lead to 3-2. Beerworth recorded her 10th regular season assist on the play.
“Caeleigh [Beerworth] was in the corner and passed it out in front of the net,” Zorn said. I just tried to get a stick on it and finish it anyway I could. We fell behind at first, but during the second period we brought a lot of energy and started to fight back.”
However, the potent St. Lawrence offense answered with a pair of goals in the second period and another insurance goal in the third stanza.
St. Lawrence enjoyed a lopsided 34-20 shot advantage over Cornell. Sophomore netminder Jenny Niesluchowski recorded 14 saves in less than five minutes of play for Cornell. She was replaced by freshman Kayla Strong, who also made 14 saves. Guckian deflected 18 shots in the win for the Saints.
On Saturday afternoon, the Red visited the Clarkson Golden Knights and suffered their second straight conference loss, 4-1. The Knights (16-5-3, 7-4-1 ECAC) were led by junior forward Marie-Jo Gaudet, who recorded her first career hat trick.
Gaudet launched her first goal at 10:36 of the first period to give the Knights a 1-0 advantage. However, Cornell freshman forward Rebecca Johnston lit the lamp for the eighth time this season 19 seconds into the second period to knot the game at 1-1. Gaudet responded with two consecutive goals to complete the hat trick. Clarkson sophomore forward Genevieve Lavoie provided another insurance tally in the third period to cap the 4-1 victory.
Cornell held a 27-22 shot advantage over the Knights, but was unable to once again crack the tough defense of Clarkson’s freshman goalie Beru Grandmont, who deflected 26 shots. In the defeat, Niesluchowski turned away 18 shots for Cornell.
“We need to play smarter defense,” Beerworth said. “Overall, we need to play team defense a lot better. This year our entire team defense is different than it was in the past couple of years, but there’s no excuse why we should be giving up this many goals at this point in the season. We just need to play better defense. That’s just what it comes down to.”
Although the Red swept the season series against Princeton on Dec. 1, Cornell rang in the New Year with a three game losing streak. The streak began with a pair of road losses to nationally ranked Ivy League rivals, No. 3 Harvard and No. 8 Dartmouth, respectively.
The Big Green triumphed with an 8-0 shutout over the Red in the Christmas Color War of ’08.
A week later, Cornell surrendered a 2-0 advantage to Rensselaer, who won 4-3, to make it three straight road losses for the Red.
During the three game losing streak, Cornell was outscored 16-4 and outshot 92-67. The Red also failed to capitalize on power play opportunities during the losing streak as well, only scoring once on eight chances.
The Red turned things around with a 3-0 shutout against the cellar dwelling Union Dutchmen (1-17-2, 0-10-2 ECAC). Sophomore goaltender Jenny Niesluchowski notched her second shutout of the season with seven saves.
Although Cornell has lost five of its last six games, the players are still optimistic about their playoff chances.
“We’re definitely in the rough part of our schedule, but this week we’ll focus on regrouping after the break,” Zorn said. “I think we should be headed in the right direction. We know what we have to do to make it into the playoffs.”