LYNAH RINK -- The top-ranked Cornell Women’s Hockey team continued its season-long dominance in the first round of the ECAC playoffs, taking down St. Lawrence 7-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday in the best-of-3 series to move onto the ECAC semifinals next Saturday.
It didn’t take long for the Big Red to take complete control on Friday, as senior Grace Graham scored on a laser that beat the St. Lawrence goalie 6:11 into the game. Senior Kristin O’Neill followed with a goal just 42 seconds later on another laser, and after Cornell was awarded a penalty shot 17 seconds later, sophomore Gillis Frechette easily scored to make it 3-0.
Senior Paige Lewis added another goal early in the second period, and both O’Neill and Frechette added their second goals of the game after a St. Lawrence goal. St. Lawrence scored once more, but sophomore Sam Burke scored with a minute remaining in the game to round out the 7-2 victory.
Saturday’s game was more of a nail-biter. After the first period ended 0-0 despite Cornell outshooting St. Lawrence 11-4, Cornell had a power play nearly 10 minutes into the second period, where Graham shoveled in a rebound off the goalie from a shot by Frechette to make it 1-0. St. Lawrence responded 8 minutes later with a goal by freshman Julia Gosling to make it 1-1, which is how the second period ended.
“We stayed fairly calm and we just turned around in the second, and we ended up executing on our chances,” said Graham of their bounceback after the first period. They would bounce back after the second as well, with O’Neill firing a shot into the top corner of the goal to make the score 2-1 a little over 7 minutes into the third period, continuing her dominance this weekend. Coach Doug Derraugh, the Ivy League Coach of the Year this season, had high praise of O’Neill and the senior class as a whole, saying, “She’s a great leader. She comes in, scores big goals for you, and then at the same time, she’s blocking shots on the penalty kill, so she’s just such a competitor all around. And I think that speaks for that entire class.”
A mere 3 minutes later, another senior would indeed lead the way, as Graham scored an incredible unassisted shorthanded goal on a breakaway for the Big Red that would prove to be the game-winner. St. Lawrence scored again with 1:49 left in the game but couldn’t get any more shots past standout junior goalie Lindsay Browning.
“Our mentality was just to push through it… and we were able to come out on top,” summarized O’Neill. Their victory pits them against Harvard this Saturday, March 7 at Lynah Rink in the ECAC semifinals, who they demolished 7-0 earlier this year at home in addition to a 4-1 victory away. The game will take place at 1pm, with Princeton and Clarkson facing off at 4pm. The winners will face off in the ECAC championship on Sunday at Lynah as well with the time TBD.
Come out and pack the rink for the Big Red this weekend!!