Cornell had been ahead for the entire game, and time was running out on the clock. Harvard pulled its goalie in a last-chance effort. With the Lynah Faithful on their feet and 26 seconds left on the clock, the Crimson knotted the game up at two apiece. The rink grew quiet.
Maybe it was the hard wooden bleachers, but nobody sat back down. Forty-seven seconds into sudden death overtime, Red senior forward Jess Brown scored, and Cornell beat Harvard on Senior Night, clinching a spot in the playoffs.
Along with the Crimson, Cornell women’s hockey closed out its regular season and home schedule by beating Ivy rival Dartmouth this past weekend. The Red (13-12-4, 9-9-4 ECAC) won 1-0 over the Green (6-19-3, 6-13-3) on Friday and 3-2 in overtime against the Crimson (16-10-3, 12-7-3) on Saturday. In doing so, Cornell moved from ninth to seventh in the ECAC, earning a playoff spot and clinching second in the Ivy League.
The lone goal of Friday’s low-scoring affair was scored by junior forward Kaitlin Doering on a breakaway while shorthanded.
“We had a lot of shots and we couldn’t bury them,” said Cornell captain and senior defenseman Cassandra Poudrier.
The game was dominated by strong defensive play from both teams, said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91.
“Both goalies played well,” he said. “I thought we played well defensively as a team.”
In addition to the relatively unusual 1-0 final score, Friday’s game was different in that Cornell had to kill off its first five minute major of the season during the second period. Brown said she believes successfully keeping Dartmouth off the board during that penalty kill helped Cornell build momentum.
“I honestly think it gave us more energy,” she said. “We were like a well-oiled machine.”
Between games, Derraugh said he looked at Friday’s other ECAC results to check in on Cornell’s playoff push, as the Red was eighth after Friday’s action. Derraugh added that he did not talk with his players about playoff odds and matchups before Saturday’s game. Some players looked up the results for themselves, while others, like assistant captain and senior forward Taylor Woods, did not.
“I really don’t like paying attention to stats a lot,” Woods said. “It just puts on our shoulders extra pressure.”
Saturday’s game between the Red and Crimson was not to be missed. Lynah Rink was enveloped in an aura of close, playoff-style hockey between two long-time rivals in front of a large and energetic crowd. The Red jumped out early two goal lead, which further enliven the already festive atmosphere.
“It’s great to have a lead and to have that extra cushion,” Woods said. “You could see the increase in energy. The ice was tilted in our favor.”
Cornell was ahead big, but there were still two periods of hockey to be played.
“Especially against Harvard, it’s never over until the buzzer [goes] off,” Poudrier said.
Slowly, the Crimson began to drag itself back into the game over the next two periods. Crimson junior forward Sydney Daniels scored in the second to make it a one-goal game and also tallied the game’s late third period equalizer.
“In that moment, my stomach dropped,” Woods said. “We were ready to just fire out of a cannon. It only took one shift.”
Brown, who got mobbed by teammates after her goal and was the first of Cornell’s six seniors honored in a short ceremony after the game, said she felt “blessed” to have experienced Saturday’s happy ending surrounded by family, teammates and fans.
“It honestly couldn’t have gone any better,” she said.