Down by two goals with four and a half minutes to play against St. Lawrence on Saturday, Cornell women’s hockey head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 opted for a sixth attacker. Two empty net goals later, the Red were staring at a 5-1 loss and a winless weekend at home.
Cornell (8-9-4, 4-6-4 ECAC) has hovered around the .500 mark for the majority of the academic winter break. After playing Clarkson (20-3-3, 8-3-3) to a 2-2 tie on Friday at Lynah Rink, the Red could only muster one goal against St. Lawrence (13-10-3, 7-5-2) the next day.
“Our problem is we haven’t been consistent,” said senior defender Taylor Woods.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s a learning curve,” said junior goaltender Paula Voorheis.
After winning four of five heading into winter break, the Red has struggled to string together two excellent games in a row. A loss at Harvard was followed by “a good outing at Dartmouth,” as Derraugh put it. A midweek loss at Colgate on Jan. 12 was followed by an important win against Yale at home.
“We played phenomenally [against Yale],” Woods said. “We came flying out in the first period. Everything seemed to be clicking.”
Cornell was up 3-0 after the first period but Yale scored three unanswered goals of its own in the second period to tie the score. Undaunted, the Red scored three goals in the third as senior forward Jess Brown finished off a hat trick.
“[It was] our biggest turning point in the season,” said junior forward Hanna Bunton.
The Red tied Brown the next day and welcomed the Knights and Saints this past weekend. Against Clarkson, Cornell scored first, but faced a 2-1 deficit compounded by a shorthanded goal that gave Clarkson the lead. The Red was able to hold Clarkson and tied up the game on Jess Brown’s goal in the third.
“We stuck to the gameplan,” Derraugh said about the Clarkson game. “We got some good goaltending as well.”
Against St. Lawrence, the Red seemed relatively evenly matched, yet sharpshooting from the Saints powered St. Lawrence to a 3-0 lead halfway through the game.
“We were giving them the lead,” Voorheis said. “We were still confident we could come back.”
“You can’t be distracted by the scoreboard,” Woods said. “We were still with them. You just have to chip away at it.”
The Red tallied a second period goal by senior forward Amanda Zorn to make it 3-1, but the team was not able to capitalize on any third period opportunities. The final score left the Lynah Faithful wanting.
“We were disappointed in the St. Lawrence game,” Derraugh said, reiterating Woods’ point about playing two strong games every weekend. “We need to have more consistency.”
Even after grabbing only one point last weekend, Cornell’s mental resolve when faced with a difficult situation midgame or midseason is readily apparent. It is this measured approach and in-game confidence that has the Red believing it can go on a late season run and play deep into March.
“We have to control what we can control,” Bunton said.
“Even losing to SLU, we control our own destiny,” Woods said. “We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder every single time. I, for sure, believe in every single one of my teammates.”