Fresh off two shutout wins against top-10 opponent Robert Morris, women’s hockey will commence ECAC play invigorated with winning momentum. The team, which has set high expectations for its season with its sweep and last year’s Frozen Four appearance, will face off against Quinnipiac and Ivy rival Princeton.
The Red registered 9 goals over the weekend, all of which went unanswered by the Colonials, a testament to both the team’s offensive and defensive depth. The Red’s desire to kickstart the season was evident in the energy it brought to the ice; its on-ice zeal and determination, which drove them to triumph, set a strong precedent for the 2019-2020 season.
“I think that this was a great start for us, and we are really looking forward to the rest of the season,” sophomore forward Gillis Frechette said. “We will use this win as confidence but we definitely have a lot of strong opponents coming up, so we cannot overlook that and get too confident.”
Cornell (2-0, 0-0 ECAC) will channel that confidence and work to hone in on this weekend’s mistakes as it competes against Quinnipiac (4-1-1, 0-0-0 ECAC) on Friday, followed by Princeton (2-0, 0-0 ECAC) on Saturday.
Despite the boost from season-opening wins, the team realizes that it must strive to perform and execute flawlessly to be successful this season, especially considering the depth and breadth of talent in the ECAC.
“Over the years, we have come to realize as coaches — and we try to get this across to players — that this could be the game that is the difference between you getting to play in the NCAA tournament or not, and that has happened to us in the past,” head coach Doug Derraugh said. “When you only play 29 games in a season, you have to be ready for each one. It doesn’t matter who your opponent is — if you’re not ready, you’re going to lose.”
Last year, the Red secured two regular-season victories against the Bobcats in a pair of 2-1 victories. Its results against Princeton were more tumultuous.
The Red’s first win against the Tigers did not materialize until its third game against the Ivy League opponent. Following an early-season tie and a mid-season 5-0 loss, the Red faced the Tigers in the ECAC tournament semi-finals. The Red achieved victory on the third game to send Cornell to the finals, but the 3-2 win did not come easily. Rather, both teams were pushed to the brink of exhaustion in a double-overtime competition, in which the Red’s signature grit and determination prevailed.
“I think we always have a special rivalry with Princeton because of our history,” Frechette said. “So I think we are all looking forward to that game, but not overlooking Quinnipiac, because we know they will be a good opponent.”
Junior goaltender Lindsay Browning added: “This is the start. Princeton and Quinnipiac is always one of our toughest weekends, so we are looking forward to it.”
Going into the weekend, Cornell is ranked at No. 3, with the Tigers just trailing at No. 6. The Red welcomes playing against such high-caliber teams as a challenge and an opportunity to further develop its own skills.
“[Princeton and Quinnipiac] have always been two of the top teams in our league,” Derraugh said. “They are both very well coached, very disciplined. They are different styles of teams but they are both very effective in what they do. We know that it will be a great challenge early on in the year but that’s what we expect.”
Although the team graduated four integral seniors last year, the team has adapted, with players taking on new responsibilities. Browning has especially stepped up, filling the role left by graduated goaltender Marlène Boisonnault ’19.
“She is just really steady back there,” Derraugh said. “It is not only saves she makes, but she helps the team to be calm as well.”
Frechette echoed her coach’s assessment:
“I think our team prides itself on being a defense-first team, and having such a presence at the net and knowing we can trust Lindsay so thoroughly definitely gives us a lot of confidence on the defensive end.”
The upcoming showdowns will take place at home at Cornell’s Lynah Rink. The Red will face Quinnipiac on Friday at 6 p.m. and Princeton on Saturday at 3 p.m.