Women’s hockey fans around the country should have been delighted to see the ECAC quarterfinal matchup between Cornell and Colgate. In the regular season, both teams took the home matchup, with each game decided by a single goal. This set the stage for an exciting, hard-fought playoff matchup.
Those fans, at least in Cornell’s camp, would have gotten their money’s worth, as Cornell completed a series sweep of Colgate on Saturday in the ECAC quarterfinals, both one goal affairs. Surprised?
Freshman forward Kristin O’Neill’s penalty shot put the game away for the Red in game one, and classmate Amy Curlew scored the lone goal in the second game along with senior goaltender Paula Voorheis’ 29 saves to clinch the series sweep.
“We were fortunate to get the one [goal] tonight and Paula had a great game,” head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 said after securing a spot in the semifinals.
In an up and down type of game in which Colgate played the aggressor — outshooting Cornell 29-17 — the Red relied on its defense and goaltending to carry the load. Cornell blueliners routinely blocked pucks and stymied the Colgate attack time and time again with its physical play.
“Hats off to Colgate,” Derraugh said. “They played us hard in both games.”
Friday’s affair was also a tight contest, with Cornell securing a 2-1 win. Sophomore forward Diana Buckley tied the game at 1-1 in the second period before freshman forward Kristin O’Neill put in the go-ahead goal with a late third period penalty shot.
In the end, strong goaltending ultimately provided the difference between the two closely matched teams. Voorheis notched 60 total saves on the weekend.
“If you are going to have success in the playoffs you need strong goaltending,” Derraugh said.
“I felt really good and I have confidence in my defense,” Voorheis added. “Even if I let out a rebound, I felt like they were always on top of it so I could play aggressively and do my thing.”
In what could be the final game at Lynah for Cornell’s senior class, the players left it all on the ice, looking to ensure a deep playoff run.
“I don’t know if it has really hit me yet, but it is definitely an amazing way to possibly end my time at Lynah,” Voorheis said.
Cornell’s senior class has been tight-knit all season. Given the fact that the Red expects most of its underclassmen to contribute significant minutes on the ice, the seniors have provided leadership and have been a major reason for the success of the underclassmen.
The seniors, led by Voorheis, showed their poise on Saturday. The moment never felt too big for the experienced bunch.
“To finish up like that is real special,” Derraugh said. “All of the seniors had a great game tonight and it’s something that they will never forget.”
While the seniors provided the leadership, it was the freshman class that scored the crucial goal for the Red on a power play opportunity in the second period.
“I think I was in the right place at the right time,” Curlew said of her series-clinching goal.
The goal brought energy to Cornell, who had been out-skated in the first period, with Colgate controlling the puck and creating scoring opportunities.
“We were a bit scattered [in the first period],” Derraugh said. “We didn’t look to attack enough and were playing slow.”
In the second period, Cornell flipped the switch, especially following the Curlew goal. Realizing its opportunity to complete a sweep and avoid a winner-take-all third game on Sunday, Cornell tightened up its defense.
“Certainly you want to get [the sweep] done when you have the opportunity,” Derraugh said. “When you have a little bit of momentum, you don’t want to lose that and have to play another game.”
Cornell will bring its tough defense and strong goaltending to St. Lawrence this Saturday in the ECAC semifinals, looking to clinch a spot in the finals the next night against either Princeton or Clarkson.