With six league games remaining on its schedule and a tenuous hold onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECAC, the women’s hockey team is facing a stark reality: it is now or never. Through 12 conference contests, the Red has managed only one win en route to a 1-11-0 league record (4-15-1 overall) and is fending off winless Vermont (4-20-2, 0-10-0 ECAC) and Union (3-22-1, 0-10-0) for the right to play in the postseason.
Despite showing flashes of brilliance, the Red has struggled with inconsistency throughout the season. The squad has found itself in a number of close, hotly-contested games that may have translated into wins for the Red had it not been for a fluke bounce or third-period collapse. Head coach Melody Davidson, fresh off a sojourn to Europe to help coach the Canadian U-22 women’s national team, is confident that simple execution of fundamentals will succeed in righting the ship.
Princeton, N.J. and New Haven, Conn. will be the dueling grounds for the Red this weekend, as the team attempts to revitalize its season against Ivy League powers Princeton and Yale. The Tigers (7- 4- 0, 14-6-0) and the Bulldogs (4- 7- 0, 8-11- 3) currently rest in fifth and seventh place in the ECAC standings, respectively, and should provide a good indicator for the Red of the type of team it must beat if it hopes to advance in the playoffs.
Last time the Red faced both of these teams on the same weekend, it was swept at home in two extremely close games. The Bulldogs shut out the Red, 3-0, with goals coming from Natalie Babony, Kristin Savard and Erin Duggan, yet the real story of the game belonged to Cornell’s freshman goaltender, Beth Baronick. Baronick gave the Red hope for a victory, giving up only one goal on 31 shots through the first two periods. Ultimately, however, Yale’s offensive onslaught proved two much for the beleaguered Red squad, who were outshot 41-21 in the Lynah showdown.
The Princeton game similarly could have gone either way, with a series of unfortunate calls and bounces leading to yet another Cornell defeat. A missed open net, a waived off goal, and a couple of unconverted power-plays all contributed to the Redis downfall, flukes that have the potential to re-write the ending of any close matchup. Another freshman star began to shine in this Jan. 10 contest as well, as Toronto native Caroline Scott added a goal and an assist in the 4-2 loss.
Since then, the Red has hotly anticipated the road rematch against the Tigers and Bulldogs, and this weekend the team will finally get the opportunity to give their opponents a taste of what it’s like to be on the losing end of a close game.
The Tigers have turned up the heat after a slow start in the ECAC, winning seven of their last eight games after a few surprising early league losses. Princeton’s squad is also trying to extend its current seven game winning streak over the Red, and will look to players such as freshman Alison Ralph — who scored the game winner against the Red in January — to contribute again tonight. The Tigers are also led by senior Gretchen Anderson, who is second overall in the ECAC in scoring with 36 points (24 goals, 12 assists), and sophomore Heather Jackson (9 goals, 10 assists). Both forwards are also notoriously dangerous for their shorthanded scoring abilities, having notched two apiece thus far.
Yale is treading water in the ECAC, trying desperately to stay out of the cellar in the standings despite having lost its last four league contests. The Bulldogs lack a star forward or highlight reel goal-scorer, instead relying on contributions from every player and a highly positional game plan. Freshman Jenna Spring leads the squad with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) while sophomore goaltender Sarah Love ranks fourth in the league with a goals against average of .924.
The Red, meanwhile, will need to tighten up its special teams if it hopes to keep pursuing the ECAC title. Cornell currently ranks last in league in penalty killing percentage, having killed only 72.8 percent of their opponents’ opportunities. The power play has been inconsistent, with a conversion percentage of 14.3. Sophomore Andrea Skinner leads the team with three power play goals.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen