December 2, 2010

No. 1 Women’s Hockey Looks to Continue Hot Streak Against St. Lawrence, Clarkson

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On the heels of its seven game winning streak in which the Red has only allowed two goals while scoring 30, Cornell bypassed the University of Wisconsin as the top team in the nation in the latest polls, released Monday. This weekend, the Red will take on St. Lawrence and Clarkson at home. Face-off will be at 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

The polls reflect the voters’ recognition of the Red’s outstanding defense so far on the season. Cornell (11-1, 6-0 ECAC) leads the nation in team defense, allowing 0.92 goals per game and is second in the nation in penalty kill percentage, stopping 36 of 38 opponent opportunities. Junior goaltender Amanda Mazzotta attributes the team’s success on defense to its unique defensive scheme.

“We play a bit of an unorthodox system on defense compared to most teams,” Mazzotta said. “We play really, really aggressive in the d-zone — it’s not the typical box plus one d-zone that other teams play. For us, it works well and if everyone does their job, it pays off.”

The aggressiveness of the Red’s defenders has paid off so far. Opponents have had tremendous trouble finding the back of the net. Cornell has allowed less than one goal in all but two games on the season, and Mazzotta leads the nation in goals-against average and is tied for second in save percentage.

“I think it frustrates a lot of teams because we don’t give them a lot of space and are always on their backs,” Mazzotta said. “It frustrates them knowing that we’re going to be in their faces all the time.”

Because the aggressive scheme is more complicated than a traditional defense, having extremely talented players certainly helps the Red in implementing head coach Doug Derraugh’s system.

“I think any team can implement it,” Mazzotta said. “But having fantastic defenders on our team makes it a lot easier because they are all fast and aggressive.”

On offense, the Red has been successful as well. It is third in the nation in scoring — notching 4.58 goals per game — and is first in the nation in power-play percentage, converting 27.45 percent of its attempts.

“We’ve been doing a great job on offense, getting off a lot of shots and getting in front of the net to cause a lot of havoc for the other team,” said senior forward Karlee Overguard.

Despite the new rankings, the Red does not feel any added pressure to do well, despite having a target on its back as a No. 1 team.

“We really don’t feel any pressure at all being No. 1,” Overguard said. “Those ratings come from people outside the team and all that matters is what we’re doing here, and what we’re doing here has gotten us to that No. 1 ranking.”

Original Author: Jimmy Xi