Cornell women’s hockey got off to a solid start this past weekend as it began the regular season with two ECAC games on the road against No. 7 St. Lawrence (2-3-2, 0-1-0 ECAC) and No. 3 Clarkson (8-1-1, 2-1-0). No. 8 Cornell (1-1-0, 1-1-0) bested the Saints, 3-1, on Friday, but fell to reigning national champion, Clarkson, 6-0, on Saturday.
The weekend — with its ups and downs — provided Cornell with a valuable learning opportunity and sets the stage for a successful campaign ahead.
“We were well prepared and battled as a team,” said junior goalie Marlene Boissonnault. “As the season progresses, we will continue to learn and grow as a team and get stronger and stronger.”
“There were a lot of positives in our first weekend,” echoed head coach Doug Derraugh ‘91. “But we need to learn to be more consistent in our play.”
The Red is coming off of an outstanding 2016-17 season that saw the team advance to the NCAA tournament. However, after graduating a strong senior class, the group had to readjust this year in order to maintain its prowess.
“This season we lost not only a talented senior class, but a group of strong leaders and teammates off the ice too,” said senior defenseman Sarah Knee. “We knew going into this season that everyone right down to the incoming freshmen would need to contribute on the ice and in the locker room to bring us back to that level.”
Underclassmen stepped up to the plate in both games this weekend as freshman defenseman, Devon Facchinato blocked two shots for the Red against Clarkson, and sophomores Jamie Bourbonnais, Kristin O’Neill, and Paige Lewis led the offensive charge during each of the two contests.
Freshman goaltender Lindsay Browning came on in relief and made her career debut for Cornell against Clarkson, and classmate forward Madlynne Mills scored her first career-goal against St. Lawrence to regain the lead in the third period.
Other highlights from the weekend include Bourbonnais’ and Lewis’ goals against St. Lawrence and Boissonnault’s 25-save performance against the Saints.
A driven and talented team, albeit young, the Red moved up one spot and is currently ranked eighth in the NCAA, but the group pays little attention to rankings as the season unfolds.
“Rankings don’t affect our goals from year to year,” Knee said. “We are always striving to be the best we possibly can. While rankings help down the road, they are more of a byproduct. We are focused on our daily actions rather than the end result.”
And despite the pressure of being a nationally ranked team, the Red prefers to take things one game at a time and focus on the task at hand, using even the toughest of losses to better itself as a cohesive unit.
“There is always a big learning curve with a young team,” Derraugh said. “We need to be patient.”
“I’m very excited for this year, and I’m even more optimistic knowing the season has only just begun,” Knee said. “There’s still plenty of work to do and nothing worthwhile comes easy, but we’re ready to work hard and learn from our mistakes. Of course we want to win games, but we know even losing can make us better.”
The Red is back in action this weekend at Lynah Rink, making its home debut against Quinnipiac (5-4, 1-1 ECAC) and Princeton (1-1-2, 1-1) in two more conference matchups.