Fresh off its most successful season in program history, the No.1 nationally-ranked women’s hockey team opened up its season at Lynah over the weekend against Robert Morris. The Red (2-0-0) had to work out some kinks on Friday night, eeking out a hard fought 3-2 win before the home crowd. Cornell, however, returned to its dominant form on Saturday night, crushing the Colonials, 9-1.
We came out strong the first 10 minutes and scored two good goals,” said reigning ECAC Player of the Year junior Catherine White, who had a goal and two assists on the weekend. “But then I think we got a little complacent and didn’t push as hard and allowed them to get back into the game. After that we realized you can’t go into every game thinking you’re going to win and not come out and play well. Every team we play is hungry, so we have to bring our A-game every night.”
Expectations could not be higher for head coach Doug Derraugh’s squad to start the season. Just two years removed from a sub .500 record, last year the Red emerged as an ECAC powerhouse, eventually knocking off Clarkson at home to capture the ECAC league title. Cornell then went on to beat Harvard and No. 1 seed Mercyhurst in NCAA tournament play to earn a spot in the national championship game at the Frozen Four in Minnesota, before ultimately falling to Minnesota-Duluth in a heartbreaking triple overtime defeat.
“We’re aware of the fact that stuff is going on around us,” said junior forward Chelsea Karpenko, who had a goal and an assist on the weekend, referring to the hype surrounding the Red this season. “But we really try hard to just push that to the side and focus on what we need to do as a team day to day, week to week, to get better. We’re sticking to our game plan and not worrying about everyone else.”
This season the core of the Red returns for another year, including White, Karpenko, junior goaltender Amanda Mazzotta and 2010 First-team All-American Laura Fortino. Perhaps the biggest impact is the return of forward Rebecca Johnston, who took a year off from school last year to compete with the Canadian National team that ended up beating the United States to capture the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Those three players, along with several other high-impact players on the Red’s roster, make the Red one of –– if not the top –– favorite to win it all in Pennsylvania in March.
“Of course it’s great to have a player like [Johnston] back,” White said. “She’s a big part of our lineup, so we’re all really happy to have her back on the team. At the same time we’re returning a strong core of our team from last year, so you add [Johnston] into the mix and that’s a recipe for success.”
Original Author: Ware Cady