Two goals by the Syracuse Orange in the first eight minutes of the game charted a dismal trajectory for the Cornell women’s hockey team. However, the seasoned competitors prevailed, skillfully netting five unanswered goals over the next two periods to secure the 5-2 victory.
Syracuse (6-18-2) entered the ice forcefully, looking to finally defeat the Red (14-2-5), who have conquered the Orange in their last 11 meetings, including a 4-1 defeat in October.
Within just four minutes of play, Syracuse’s Amanda Hoppner put the Orange on the scoreboard. Emma Polaski was quick to widen the deficit and secure a second goal for the Orange.
“There was a little bit of complacency going into the start of the game; we were not quite ready,” said head coach Doug Derraugh. “We have to give Syracuse credit — they came out jumping and got two quick goals on us.”
The Red’s junior forward Grace Graham, assisted by junior defenseman Jaime Bourbonnais, eclipsed the first goal for Cornell, placing them on the scoreboard. Bourbonnais, on a straight away, skated the length of the rink into the Orange’s defensive zone. She passed the puck to Graham, who adeptly sent it straight into the goal.
The Red remained at a 2-1 disadvantage into the second period. Halfway in, it seemed that the Red was doomed to fall even more behind as the Orange’s Victoria Klimek had a breakaway opportunity. She entered the offensive zone with the puck and had no Red defensemen there to stop her. Her attempt to fool senior goaltender Marlène Boissonnault, however, failed. This crucial save kept the game within reach for the Red and shifted the momentum in its favor.
“There were some breakdowns defensively in the second period and Marlène made a big save on the breakaway,” Derraugh said. “I feel like that really lifted us and changed the course of the game.”
Just minutes later, Cornell sophomore defenseman Devon Facchinato sent a shot to the Orange goaltender. Junior forward Paige Lewis was quick to locate the rebounded puck and, amid the chaos, redirected it to the back of the net. The second period ended in a tie.
Five minutes into the third period, junior forward Kristin O’Neill helped the Red pull forward 3-2 in the contest. On a power play, junior defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart took a shot and, on the rebound, O’Neill sank the shot. In 15 out of 20 games this season, the Red has either reached or surpassed 3 goals in a game.
With under seven minutes left in the competition, the puck was in Cornell’s offensive zone, which was crowded with players from both teams after a missed give-and-go scoring attempt. Among the clutter, Micah Zandee-Hart connected her stick to the puck and answered with a goal.
Even with some lapses in defense, the Red staved off goals from the Orange for over two periods, much to the credit of Boissonnault, who had 22 saves.
To cap off the win, junior forward Amy Curlew, with the puck on her stick, skated into the offensive zone with no Orange defensemen in sight. She buried the puck into the goal to secure the win for the Red but was not satisfied by the team’s performance.
“In the second and third period, I think we settled more into our game,” said Derraugh. “It’s a good lesson for us that we can’t wait until the second or third period — we need to be ready from the start.”
On Friday at 6 p.m., the Red will look to further extend their winning streak as they host ECAC competitor Union at Lynah Rink.