With only one second left on the clock, Cornell women’s hockey watched its season end last March on a back-breaking Colgate goal. Cornell had started the third period down three and battled back to even, only to see the comeback fall short and the season end in the ECAC semi-final.
The Red (11-2-5, 9-2-1 ECAC), fresh off shutout victories against Dartmouth and Harvard, is seeking vengeance for last year’s elimination in a two-game series against the Colgate Raiders (14-6-4, 8-2-2 ECAC). Cornell is looking to put last year’s results in the rearview in order to move past a tough top-ten team.
“Last year was last year and this year is this year. We are both different teams and haven’t seen each other all year long,” head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 said. “They are one of the best teams in the country and we know that so we know we are going to have to be at our best to give ourselves an opportunity.”
The Raiders are skilled at both ends of the ice, but their offense is especially dangerous. Defensive prowess for Cornell will prove essential against an offensively-driven team like Colgate.
“They have a lot of players that are real strong with the puck and can score goals,” Derraugh said. “They transition very quickly, so you have to be prepared to match their speed. Colgate is probably one of the most dangerous teams in the NCAA, especially offensively speaking.”
Junior defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart echoed the importance of quality defensive play.
“Colgate is a really skilled offensive team,” she said. “They capitalize in the offensive zone, so it will be important for us to be aware on defense and shut them down early.”
Colgate, occupying the No. 8 spot in the NCAA standings, just barely trails No. 6 Cornell. With the playoffs looming as the season meets its halfway point, the results of each game are especially formative.
“This is always an exciting time. You start to see the standings change and you know that each game is going to make a difference as far as the playoffs go,” Derraugh said. “At this time of the season, you start to realize that every win or loss is going to make a difference at the end.”
As the season has progressed, the team has evolved both on and off the ice.
“The team has become a lot closer outside of hockey,” senior forward Diana Buckley said. “On the ice, we have really come to buy into the systems that structure the style of hockey we play.”
In its first games back from winter break, the Red has been looking to hone its defensive game while remaining sharp offensively.
“To beat Colgate we need to bear down on our defensive systems and play with offensive tenacity to continue scoring,” Buckley said. “Staying disciplined and sticking together as a team will be key for success against a strong team like Colgate.”
Throughout the remainder of the season, the Red will look for consistency through discipline and an emphasis on special teams and defensive-zone coverage.
“Game in and game out there is little room for error, so keeping things tight defensively will allow us to be in more games and focus on capitalizing on offense,” Zandee-Hart said.
The Red will first hit the ice against the Raiders in Hamilton on Friday at 3 p.m. before returning to Ithaca on Saturday to face Colgate in Lynah Rink at 3 p.m. Each game will be the first in a double header with Cornell men’s hockey playing after the women on the same ice. On Friday, the men will play at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday they will play at 7 p.m.