Over the weekend, Cornell women’s hockey capped off a season that saw the team winning a regular season Ivy League title for the second year in a row.
Now, after closing out its regular season campaign with a pair of wins on the road against Union and Rensselaer, the Red (19-7-3, 15-5-2 ECAC) will turn its attention to the playoffs with some reflection on the campaign that brought it there.
Cornell steadily climbed its way up the rankings as the season went on — finishing the regular season at No. 5.
“I think we have had good success in several areas of our team game as reflected by our national ranking,” said junior forward Lenka Serdar. “We are committed to team defense, penalty killing, and, more recently, creative offense and the power play.”
The Red currently has the nation’s longest unbeaten streak — skating the past eight games it has played without a loss.
Cornell also has some outstanding individual achievements. Sophomore forward and captain Kristin O’Neill is tied for first nationally with four short-handed goals and tied for second with seven game-winning goals
In the crease, junior goalkeeper, Marlene Boissonnault has been integral to the Red’s victories, and she is ranked top-ten in the nation with a goals against average of 1.62 and six shutouts.
Even with the success the team has had in the regular season, the Red looks to keep building momentum as it heads into the postseason.
“We are pleased with how we performed in the regular season,” said head coach Doug Derraugh ’91. “But the playoffs is a whole new season for all teams. Everyone starts at the same starting line and has equal opportunity to win.”
Though Cornell clearly has the potential to make it deep into the playoffs, the Red will be focused on taking it one game at a time — starting with a three-game series this weekend against Princeton (13-12-4, 11-10-1 ECAC) in the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs.
“We’re really focusing on the next two games — maybe three — ahead of us,” said junior forward Pippy Gerace. “We’re not trying to look too far ahead to the ECAC and national tournament. We’re happy with our seeding, but we aren’t finished yet.”
Due to Cornell’s record which was enough to earn the team a third seed, the Red will have home-ice advantage against the Tigers this weekend. The situation represents an ideal circumstance for a team that has only dropped three contests at Lynah the entire season — two to No. 1 Wisconsin and one to reigning national champion No. 2 Clarkson. Even more encouraging for the Red is the fact that Princeton has lost eight of its 14 games on the road.
The Tigers won’t go down without a fight, however, having finished behind the Red for second in the Ivy League this season.
“We know Princeton has a very good team from top to bottom,” Derraugh said. “They have great goaltending, their defense is very mobile and strong at both ends of the ice, and they have some very dangerous forwards. It should be an exciting series.”
Just as it has been all season, the Red will look to improve upon its success by sticking to a simple plan — playing consistent hockey for the entire 60 minutes of the match.
“Our focus will be putting together everything we’ve learned over the last several months and just playing smart hockey,” said senior defender Sarah Knee. “ Limiting our own mistakes will also be key — we don’t want to give teams any chances against us that they haven’t earned.”
The puck will drop against the Tigers at 6 p.m. on Friday at Lynah Rink, at 3 p.m on Saturday, and at 3 p.m. again on Sunday if Game 3 is necessary.