November 4, 2012

W. HOCKEY | Icers Dominate ECAC Foes, Gain Four Points

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The women’s hockey team continued its hot start and remain tied with Harvard atop the ECAC standings, following victories against conference rivals Princeton and Quinnipiac this past weekend.

On Friday at Lynah Rink, the No. 2 Red (6-1-0, 4-0-0 ECAC) dominated the Tigers (2-3-1, 0-3-1) en route to a 4-0 win and followed it up with a 4-3 comeback on  Saturday afternoon against the Bobcats (5-4-1, 2-2-0).

“I think the key to [the Princeton game] was that we came out pretty strong and we set the tempo pretty high,” said senior defenseman and alternate captain Laura Fortino. “We played pretty well in each aspect of the game and we scored pretty quick and we scored often and that was the key for us.”

The Red struck fast in the first period with a goal from sophomore forward Jillian Saulnier. She followed it up with another quick strike to open the second period, and freshman defenseman Cassandra Poudrier added a third goal to stretch the lead. Soon after, freshman defenseman Morgan Richardson scored her first career goal for the Red on an assist from Fortino.

“I think [Poudrier] was really excited,” Fortino said, as she described the goal. “She’s very humble. I was so excited for her when she scored. I think I was the first one who skated over to her, with my arms up in the air. She had a big smile on her face and she told me ‘good pass’ and I told her it was a great shot she put on that — it went top corner. I was so proud of her.”

Cornell gave a strong offensive performance throughout the entire game, overwhelming Princeton with 45 shots compared to the Tigers’ 10. Fortino attributed a strong defensive game to the Red’s handily beating the Ivy rival.

“We limited [Princeton] to very minimal shots. I think the key for us was moving the puck up [the] ice and keeping it simple,” Fortino said. “[Head coach Doug Derraugh ’91] always emphasizes [that] a shot on net is never a bad thing and he also emphasizes … getting pucks to the net and creating rebounds and goals that way. And I think we really focused on that … Whenever we had the opportunity in the offensive zone to get a shot … we always put in on net, and that created a lot of opportunities for us in [the Princeton] game.”

Quinnipiac posed a greater challenge for the Red on Saturday. Goals by freshman forward Jess Brown and sophomore forward Emily Fulton put Cornell ahead, 2-0, at the end of the first period; however, the Bobcats scored three quick goals in the second period to chase freshman goalie Stefanie Moak from the game and take a 3-2 advantage.

“They got their two goals very quick, off the opening draw in the second period,” Fortino said. “I think that goes to show us against a good, skilled team like Quinnipiac — any skilled team — you’ve got to be ready at the drop of every faceoff and it’s so key [that] at the start of every period you’ve got to be ready to go, to reset the tempo of the game … I think we had a mental lapse. We weren’t ready for the start of the second period and it resulted in two goals.”

After the momentum shift out of the Red’s end into Quinnipiac’s favor, Cornell needed to regroup and find a new plan of attack for overcoming the Bobcats.

“Before we [headed] out for the third period, we [had] to really reevaluate what we were doing out there,” Fortino said. “Coach just came in and we went over our systems again — a couple things we had to change up.”

The Red responded well in the final period of play with goals by Poudrier and junior defenseman Alyssa Gagliardi that gave the Red a decisive 4-3 advantage. The major story of the third period, however, was freshman goaltender Katelyn Pippy, who made 11 saves in her first action this season.

“[Pippy’s] been working hard,” Fortino said. “She’s been fighting for that spot, and we were all so proud of her the way she went in there. In a game like that, especially a close game like that, she went in and she played with confidence and I was so proud of her. We believed in her as a team and she proved us right. … She really showed that she wanted to be in there and we were all so proud of her [and] the way she performed.”

For the Red, the weekend slate ended with similar outcomes — but very different games. When asked which contest, the 4-0 shutout over Princeton or the 4-3 comeback against Quinnipiac, was more important for the squad, Fortino immediately answered Quinnipiac.

“Both games were great, but I think the Quinnipiac game was a big eye-opener for us — especially for the freshmen. Quinnipiac was a very skilled team and they are one of the top teams in the ECAC this year,” she said. “It just shows how quickly we need to make decisions, move the puck and how aggressive we need to be in that you need to be focused every minute of the game because skilled teams like [Quinnipiac], they will capitalize on every mistake we make and I think we learned that.”

Finishing the weekend with four more points in the ECAC, the Red experienced how to win in an overwhelming fashion, as well as how to win in a hard-fought battle. Achieving positive results every week will continue to be a challenge for Cornell; however, the team has a better understanding of the character needed to secure the win.

The Red has a two-week break before its next match at home against Colgate on November 16.

Original Author: Chris Mills