For the second straight weekend, the Cornell women’s hockey team fell to Clarkson in a close game. A 3-1 road loss on Saturday thrashed Cornell’s hopes for a Frozen Four appearance, but the team will nevertheless look back on a successful season.
“It’s a tough way to end the season, but only one team gets to end the season on a win,” said senior forward Hanna Bunton. “Coming into the year I don’t think many people thought we would’ve gone this far.”
The Golden Knights quickly took momentum of the game in the first period after an early power play goal Clarkson’s Loren Gabel.
“The first goal gives you momentum and it is crucial regardless of who you are playing,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ‘91. “If you look at the percentages and the statistics, it is always huge but [also] not the end.”
Following the goal, the Red fared poorly throughout the period, committing four penalties and never generating much momentum. Cornell had a few scoring chances in the first period, including a shot from Bunton that deflected off of the crossbar, but could not convert.
While Cornell struggled to generate offensive pressure, senior goalie Paula Voorheis kept the Red in the game with several key saves throughout the first period.
“I think we pushed back and had some scoring chances ourselves, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Bunton said.
In the second period, the game evolved into a defensive battle, with neither team allowing many scoring opportunities. While Cornell made several costly errors which stifled momentum, it still managed to kill off two power play opportunities for Clarkson.
“We took too many penalties and it was tough playing down a man for so many minutes,” Bunton said. “You aren’t able to generate scoring chances during those minutes.”
Late in the third period, another goal from Gabel opened a devastating two-goal lead. Cornell kept fighting, however, with sophomore Lenka Serdar tallying the Red’s first goal after Cornell pulled Voorheis from the net to bring an extra attacker onto the ice.
As the Red searched for the tying goal late in the third period, Clarkson scored again on an empty net opportunity to seal the game. However, while the Red lost the game, the team displayed its never-quit attitude on Saturday, even while trailing by two goals in the third period.
By all measures, Cornell far exceeded expectations for this season. The team began the year with a roster which included seven freshman players.
“Coming in with seven freshman was a huge change for us,” Bunton said. “A lot of people counted us out at the beginning of the season but we clawed our way up in the rankings week after week.”
Bunton and the rest of the seniors will leave behind a strong work ethic and commitment to the game, something that the younger players will undoubtedly benefit from.
“One of the biggest legacies you would want to leave behind at Cornell is leadership, hard work and dedication,” Bunton said. “I’m really proud of the group we have as a senior class and I think that we’ve definitely left our mark at Cornell.”
Next season, the Red will welcome back many talented players. The team will likely be viewed as ECAC title contenders coming into the season due to its solid foundation of young talent.
“The players on this team that are going to be here next year are an amazing group of women and young hockey players,” Bunton said.
Much of Cornell’s success in the coming years will be attributed to the this season’s group which exceeded expectations and restored Cornell women’s hockey to its mark of excellence.