Monday, March 7, 2011

Cornell Women take Second-Straight ECAC Title

Photo by: Robyn Wishna/the Ithaca Journal

The Cornell women captured the ECAC Championship on Saturday with a 3-0 shutout victory over Dartmouth.  Dartmouth had been the only team to beat the Big Red in ECAC play this season, but this time Cornell played a grinding game and gave up zero opportunities, ensuring their second straight title.

“They didn’t make many mistakes,” said senior Dartmouth defenseman Katie Horner. “We’ve been the kind of team that capitalizes on another team’s mistakes.  When you play a team like that, that doesn’t mess up often, there isn’t too much you can capitalize on.”

Dartmouth’s win over Cornell came with a lot of help from their power play, but Cornell had clearly been studying tape as they shut down all six extra-man advantages.  Cornell scored a goal in each period, with the first two coming from tournament MVP Chelsea Karpenko.  Hayley Hughes scored the lone goal in the third period.

The refs told the players they were going to let them play, and they stuck to their word.  It was a very physical game, with a total of 6 penalties called for either boarding or body-checking. 

“The referees said before that they were going to let it be fairly physical,” said Cornell head coach Doug Derraugh. “And it’s gotten more physical as the season’s gone on.  I feel like the games are getting more and more physical down the stretch here, and that’s usually the way it is in the playoffs.  It’s usually a more physical brand of hockey.”

Despite the lopsided score, Dartmouth freshman goalie Lindsay Holdcroft played incredibly with 25 saves, earning her ECAC All-Tournament honors.  But she was no match for the team defense of Cornell, who stifled nearly every chance Dartmouth had.

“To have a shutout in the championship game like that is unbelievable,” said Cornell sophomore defenseman Laura Fortino. “It says a lot about our team and how much pride we take in our D-zone.”

Cornell goalie Amanda Mazzotta earned a shutout in just her second game back after taking three months off.  After allowing three goals against Quinnipiac in Cornell’s semi-final win, Mazzotta buckled down and made several key saves for the Big Red on the penalty kill to get the shutout.

Oddly enough, these two teams will get another crack at each other on Saturday…in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Dartmouth received an at-large bid and will return to Lynah Rink in Ithaca to face off against Cornell.  This time, the stakes will be elimination.

It promises to be another thriller this weekend as Cornell continues to push for their second straight national championship appearance.  Expect the physicality and intensity to be back in action.  That puck drops at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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