They always say, “Defense Wins Championships”. While the defense didn’t win any championships for the women’s hockey team this weekend, it did win both matches. Cornell notched two shutouts this weekend, defeating Princeton, 1-0, on Friday and Quinnipiac, 4-0, on Saturday. The No. 2 Red (8-1, 6-0 ECAC) has allowed only one goal over its past four games, giving junior goaltender Amanda Mazzotta four shutouts on the season.
Despite its high-powered offense, the Red struggled to finish in front of the net on Friday against the Tigers (3-7-1, 3-5-1 ECAC). Cornell peppered the Princeton net with 31 shots but failed to connect until freshman forward Brianne Jenner found the back of the goal midway through the third period, off of assists from sophomore defender Laura Fortino and junior forward and assistant co-captain Rebecca Johnston.
“We really have to bear down on our chances,” Fortino said. “We had a lot of chances against Princeton that we didn’t capitalize on. In the bigger games, every chance is going to count.”
Against Quinnipiac (9-6-1, 4-5-0 ECAC), the Red offense came out firing on all cylinders, scoring four goals in the opening period. Senior forward Hayley Hughes notched a goal and an assist, while senior forward and captain Amber Overguard, junior forward Chelsea Karpenko and freshman forward Jessica Campbell each added a goal.
The power play was again huge for the women’s team over the weekend. Jenner’s game-winner on Friday came off the power play and the Red also capitalized on one of two power-play opportunities on Saturday. This weekend’s power-play success marked the Red’s 11th and 12th power-play goals of the season off of just 40 attempts.
“The fact that we have confidence in our power play is really important,” Hughes said. “We can really rely on it to get the job done. What worked well for us is that we’re focusing on moving the puck instead of carrying it. We really see the ice better when we’re moving the puck quicker and trying to get shots on net.”
The defense stepped up in a big way over the weekend when the offense struggled. Mazzotta stopped all 15 shots she faced against the Tigers and all 18 against the Bobcats. The Red defense also killed all seven opposing power-play opportunities.
“Our defense is something that we really pride ourselves on,” Hughes said. “It takes a strong defense to succeed in this league.”
Mazzotta has reinforced her status as one of the nation’s top goaltenders over the course of the season. After finishing last season ranked sixth in the nation in goals-against average and leading the country with 11 shutouts, Mazzotta leads the ECAC in goals-against average, save percentage and win percentage.
“It’s very comforting having Mazzotta back there. It helps me play more relaxed,” Fortino said. “She’s very calm and great in the net and it makes our job as defenders so much easier knowing that if we make a mistake here or there she’ll be there to cover us.”
Original Author: Jimmy Xi