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Cornell, Harvard Drop Heartbreakers in NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Quarterfinals

Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

Cornell and Harvard both suffered quarterfinal losses on Saturday in the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship. The Big Red, seeded second in the tournament, lost to Mercyhurst, 3-2. Harvard, facing fourth-seeded Wisconsin, rallied late but lost to the host Badgers, 2-1. 

Recaps of both contests are below:

 

Story courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications

ITHACA, N.Y. – Emily Fulton scored twice, but Cornell's season came to a close Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Mercyhurst in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships at Lynah Rink.

Fulton bookended the scoring in the game, which featured three power-play goals from the Lakers to end the Big Red's season for a second year in a row. Lauren Slebodbick finished up with 34 saves for Cornell (24-5-4).

Mercyhurst ran into a little penalty trouble midway through the first period, allowing Cornell to go on a five-on-three advantage. Alyssa Gagliardi set up Jillian Saulnier's entry on the right wing, then the junior center feathered a pass across from the bottom of the circle that Emily Fulton deftly tipped between the legs of Makela, giving the Big Red an early 1-0 lead.

Cornell had a chance to double the advantage with six minutes to play in the stanza, but Fulton's shorthanded breakaway attempt was thwarted by Makela.

The Big Red enjoyed another strong start to the second period, with extended possession leading to an early power play. Cornell had a few chances on the advantage, with none better than Taylor Woods' shot that clanked off the crossbar at the 5:52 mark. At even strength a couple minutes later, Gagliardi and Saulnier made nice moves to set up Campbell's shot from the right circle, but Makela was strong on her angle and yielded no rebound. By the midway point of the period, Mercyhurst had just one shot on goal.

All that would change in the next 10 minutes, in part because of four consecutive Lakers power plays. Mercyhurst scored on two of them to take a 2-1 lead into the third. Molly Byrne tied the game at 10:59 with a seeing-eye shot from the right point, then Christine Bestland gave the Lakers the lead 5:18 before the break on a wraparound after Emily Janiga's faceoff win to Slebodnick's right.

The Lakers pushed the lead to two goals 8:08 into the third on their third power-play goal of the game, with Bestland working a perfect goal-mouth give-and-go with Jenna Dingeldein for a tap-in – her second goal of the game.

Cornell made a late push to equalize, but came no closer than the final one-goal margin. Fulton's second goal of the game cut the Big Red's deficit to 3-2 with 4:29 to play in the third after she pulled up in the right circle before beating Makela by the blocker. Cassandra Poudrier and Slebodnick earned the assists.

 

Story courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

MADISON, Wisc.  Harvard and Wisconsin went toe-to-toe with each other in the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Quarterfinals, but it was the fourth-seeded Badgers who came away with the nail-biting 2-1 victory on Saturday night in LaBahn Arean.

Wisconsin badgered Harvard goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer with 44 shots on target, 35 of which came in the first 40 minutes. Maschmeyer, though, came up with 42 saves, marking the eighth time all season she turned aside 40 or more shots in a game.

As the case was to be expected, special teams played an important role in the evening. The Crimson's penalty kill, which had been tops in the nation for nearly the whole season, fended off a Wisconsin power play that came in ranked in the top-four in the land. Harvard ended all three of the Badger's advantages to keep the game tight.

Dylanne Crugnale tallied a late third-period goal for the Crimson, giving Harvard a much needed boost towards the finish line, but Wisconsin was able to keep any more pucks from finding the back of the net to skate away with the Quarterfinal win and the right to play No. 1 Minnesota in the Frozen Four.

After the first puck dropped, Wisconsin came out firing on all cylinders, as the Badgers kept the Crimson on its heels, but Harvard was able to match UW's intensity as the period wore on. Playing in their final games wearing the Crimson, both Gina McDonald and Elizabeth Parker tested Alex Rigsby in goal with well-timed efforts in front of the net to set the pace in the first.

It was the home squad that got the initial advantage, however. Even though UW reeled off 18 shots in the opening frame, only one crossed the goal line thanks to tremendous play by Maschmeyer and the defense in front of her. But with just 3:04 left in the frame, Blayre Turnbull and Brittany Ammerman took advantage of a 2-on-1, as Ammerman found Turnbull on the left side of the cage for the put-in and the lead.

Both teams upped the intensity in the second, each getting their chances early. Wisconsin kept testing Maschmeyer and the Crimson defense, but Hillary CroweSydney Daniels and the Harvard offense attacked as well. Crowe alone fired away with three shots on target, with Daniels adding a pair of tries, but Rigsby was up for the challenge and turned nine Crimson shots away.

On the other end, Wisconsin tallied yet another late goal in the period as Katy Josephs found a way to splice the puck underneath Maschmeyer's pads for the score to go up 2-0. Kelly Jaminski and Turnbull were on the assists to give the Badgers a precarious two-goal lead into the third period.

Though it was down a pair of scores, Harvard was anything but deflated at the start of the final stanza. The Crimson tested Rigsby in nearly every shift in the early going, including a couple of great opportunities from Crowe and Miye D'Oench. Maschmeyer staved off any attempt for Wisconsin to add a third goal, but Rigsby was equal to the task. The senior Badger made a highlight reel save, robbing D'Oench of a one-timer, following a terrific centering pass, with a stick save from her stomach.

But Crugnale's score to end Harvard's silence came soon after. D'Oench found her classmate down low, after which Crugnale took the puck to the side of the net and sent a turnaround shot that took a good bounce off Rigsby's skate to give the Crimson life with just three minutes left to play.

Though Harvard kept fighting, Wisconsin was able to fend off the Harvard attack until the horn sounded. The Crimson went with the extra-attacker in the final 40 seconds, but could not come up with the equalizer.