February 19, 2007

W. Hockey Splits Last Two Games of Season

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The women’s hockey team ended its regular season this weekend with a split on the road against conference rivals Quinnipiac and Princeton. Friday night in Hamden, Conn., Cornell won in come-from-behind fashion, scoring its two goals in the third period to defeat Quinnipiac by a score of 2-1. Saturday afternoon in Princeton, N.J., the Red fell behind early and could not generate any offense late in the game., as Princeton shut out Cornell, 3-0.

In Friday night’s game against Quinnipiac (8-24-2, 5-16-1 ECACHL), Cornell (4-23-2, 4-17-1) struggled in the first and second periods and the Bobcats took advantage. Sophomore Hayley McKeekin scored her 14th goal of the season with five minutes remaining in the second period off assists from classmates Jennifer MacLean and Nicollette Leone.

Trailing 1-0 going into the third period, Cornell was ready to stage a comeback. With 10 minutes to go in the game, junior Brianne Schmidt scored her eighth goal of the season off assists by classmate Beth DiBella and sophomore Brianne Gilbert. Then, 23 seconds later, Schmidt struck again and made the score 2-1 off an assist from classmate Brittany Forgues. That goal turned out to be the game-winner, as the Red held on for the 2-1 win despite being outshot, 31-18.

“Unlike a lot of games this season, we did not come out with a great start,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “However, between the first and second periods, they pulled up their socks and came out a lot better. Obviously, we got some very timely goals at a critical time. We also got some critical saves from [senior goalie] Beth Baronick when we needed her to. The combination of those two things was great to see.”

Schmidt, with her two goals, was named first star of the game. For the season, Schmidt leads the Red with nine goals, nine assists and 18 total points. Baronick was named second star of the game for her 30 saves.

“That’s what you need from your top players,” Derraugh said. “You need them to come out and score goals at critical times. That’s what Brianne Schmidt did. The first one was to drive it hard to the net and shoot the puck at the net. When you do that, things happen. The second one was some good play by her linemates down low, cycling the puck and she got it in the slot, got her head up, and shot it right in the corner where she wanted to go. So it was a nice goal.”

With 5 minutes left in the game, the Bobcats had a great opportunity to score the equalizer, but Baronick would not be denied and made a key save to keep the score 2-1. That save shifted momentum back to the visitor’s side of the ice and gave the Red the necessary confidence that it was going to hang on.

“It was great giving my team an opportunity to win the game,” Baronick said. “Then in the third period, Brianne scored two goals within a minute, and it was great.”

Saturday afternoon against Princeton (16-10-3, 14-6-2), Cornell could not duplicate its timely goals from the night before and, as a result, fell 3-0 to Princeton. The Tigers struck first with an unassisted goal by sophomore Sonja Novak at the 4:22 mark of the first period. About six minutes later, junior Brittany Salmon made the score 2-0 off an assist from senior Kim Pearce. The final goal of the game was scored at the end of the second period by the Tigers’ sophomore Katherine Dineen. Salmon and senior Kate Kession assisted on the goal.

“I thought we were steady throughout the game,” Derraugh said. “Princeton is very good defensively. We didn’t generate a lot of offense which I would have like to have seen us to a little better. We tried to pressure them a little more in the second and third periods, and though we weren’t able to generate a lot of great scoring opportunities, we had a couple in the second period that we didn’t score on that would have helped us gain some momentum in the game. I thought it was a fairly evenly matched game, except that they got quite a few more shots on goal than we did.”

In the game, Cornell was outshot 43-14. Baronick saved all but three of those 43 shots for the Red on defense. On the power play, the Red could not convert on any of its five opportunities while the Tigers cashed in with one power-play goal on five of its advantages.

“Obviously, Princeton is a great team,” Baronick said. “It was a hard-fought battle and I thought we played well. We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”

Now with the season over, Friday’s great comeback against Quinnipiac should serve as a late-season bright spot for Cornell as it put up a much-needed “W” in ECACHL competition.

“Considering the way the season has gone, I was really pleased with Friday that we came from behind, got a lead, and kept it,” Derraugh said. “That was a good sign. You sometimes worry when you don’t get the first goal, but they kept fighting back, kept working hard, and we got the lead and kept the lead. Those were very good signs for the future. We played very hard and very consistently throughout both games. So that’s a good positive sign considering the way the season has gone.”