November 7, 2010

Women’s Hockey Bounces Back Against Harvard, Dartmouth

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Reeling from an overtime loss to No. 4 Mercyhurst and missing its top two scorers against No. 10 Harvard and an undefeated Dartmouth, it could have been a long weekend for Cornell. A fantastic power play and a suffocating defense made sure that wasn’t the case, as Cornell powered its way to a 3-0 victory over the Crimson and a 6-1 drubbing of the Green this weekend.

Cornell was missing junior forward and co-assistant captain Rebecca Johnston and freshman forward Brianne Jenner this weekend, as the two were with the Canadian National Team at the Four Nation’s Cup. Coming into the weekend, Jenner led the Red in scoring with 11 points while Johnston was second with eight points. The offense, with talented players across the board, didn’t miss a beat.

“They’re huge players and without them we knew that everyone had to step up,” said junior goalkeeper Amanda Mazzotta. “We were able to get a lot of goals from a lot of different people. That’s good and says a lot about our depth and it does a lot for our confidence knowing that anybody can score at any time.”

Cornell showcased its depth and balance on an offense missing its top two scorers. 10 players have scored on the season, and five players have four or more goals. 16 players have notched at least a point and six players currently have eight or more points.

“We’re lucky enough and fortunate enough to have some of the top players in the world on our team,” said junior forward and reigning ECAC Player of the Year Catherine White. “It’s a powerful statement to make, but it’s true.”

After tallying nine goals in two games, it certainly looks as if the Red has several of the top young players in the world. Senior forward Hayley Hughes, senior forward and captain Amber Overguard and sophomore defenseman Lauriane Rougeau all notched goals against Harvard. Hughes notched the first goal at 7:30 into the contest, with a shot off a nifty feed from sophomore defender Laura Fortino on a power play. Hughes also picked up two more assists on second half goals by Overguard and Rougeau. Rougeau’s goal also came on a power play.

In Saturday’s tangle with Dartmouth, White and senior forward and co-assistant captain Karlee Overguard both had a pair of goals. Fortino and junior forward Chelsea Karpenko also scored goals for Cornell. White’s second goal came on a power play as the Red again took advantage of opponent infractions.

The Red’s power play this season seems to be clicking, notching 10 goals and converting on over 30 percent of opportunities. Cornell capitalized on its chances with an extra skater against Harvard, generating 10 shots on goal with seven power play opportunities. It was the same story against the Green, as the Red peppered the opposing keeper with ten shots on six power play opportunities.

“Our power play seemed to gel a lot this weekend. It’s great because it’s still early on in the season and we’re trying to figure out what gels and what works,” White said. “Despite the drastic change up in our lines since we were missing a couple of players I was really impressed with the way we were able to come together and work out the power play. It helped that we had a lot of our more seasoned players out there that knew the system. We executed really well this weekend.”

In addition to having a great power play, the Red defense also played spectacularly, baffling Harvard and Dartmouth all weekend. Mazzotta notched her 13th career shutout against Harvard, making 24 saves. She came out strong again against Dartmouth, allowing only one goal and making 25 saves.

“It’s definitely a comforting fact knowing that you have a strong goalie behind you,” White said. “We played physical and good team defense and we were able to really help out Mazzotta. We were all really proud of giving up only one goal on the weekend.”

The Red has been working on its zone defense the last few weeks to complement its high-octane offense.

“We were really conscious of the D-zone and everybody was really focused on what they had to do and how to make the system work as a whole,” Mazzotta said. “We don’t want to have to score six goals to win a game. Obviously it’s great, but the D-zone is also a very important thing to us and we’re working on that a lot.”

In a season full of high expectations, this weekend was extremely important for a Red team coming off an early season loss against Mercyhurst. Winning both matches against top Ivy foes was critical in the Red’s league title hopes.

“To us, the Ivy League championship was on the line this weekend because Harvard and Dartmouth are probably the next two top Ivy League teams in our league,” White said. “We’re happy to come out with two Ws for sure.”

Original Author: Jimmy Xi