Women's hockey claims first league victory

The women’s hockey team snapped its six-game losing streak on Friday afternoon after demolishing the Colgate University Raiders by a score of 10-4, but could not keep that momentum up in Saturday’s match, losing to the No. 10 Cornell University Big Red in a 3-1 decision. The win and loss place RPI 1-3-0 in league play and 3-6-3 overall, while Colgate falls to 0-2-1 in the ECAC and 1-7-1 overall. Cornell improves to a perfect 4-0-0 in the conference and 4-2-0 overall.

Friday’s match saw a five-point game from freshman Taylor Horton as well as multi-point games from five other players. The romp is the first time RPI has scored 10 or more goals since a 2006 win over Sacred Heart University, and was the most goals ever scored against an ECAC opponent, with the previous record set at eight goals in a 2006 victory over Cornell. “After Friday’s game, our whole team was happy with the outcome of the game and our play,” explained Horton. “I was happy I was able to contribute to our team’s success, and was really happy that we got the win.”

Rensselaer rallied for two goals in the first period, five in the second, and three more in the third, including two by Horton. Sophomore defenseman Sierra Vadner opened scoring for the Engineers with her first goal of the year just over a minute into the contest, with assists from classmate Amanda Castignetti and junior Kendra Dunlop. Horton responded within seven seconds to increase RPI’s lead to two.

Cutting the deficit to one, Colgate came back with a goal of its own 3:49 into the second period with senior Beth Rotenberg’s third of the year. However, the small difference would not last as Rensselaer came back with a five-goal effort to end the period. Senior Whitney Naslund pushed the score to 3-1 after receiving a pass from classmate Laura Gersten and flipping a backhanded shot over the shoulders of Raiders sophomore netminder Kimberly Sass. Midway through the frame, senior Allison Wright added her first of two for the night while on a power play and was quickly followed by sophomore Alisa Harrison, who buried her second goal of the year, bringing the score to 5-1, and the eventual game-winner. “Our line really clicked that night and we were able to get some good offense going to help the team out,” said Harrison of her four-point night.

The Engineers were not quite done yet in the second, as junior wing Sydney O’Keefe added back-to-back goals at 14:07 and 16:11, pulling RPI’s lead to a six-goal difference. Horton earned the assists on both of O’Keefe’s goals. Just 26 seconds later, however, Colgate responded with a goal from senior Katie Stewart that squeaked between the post and junior goalkeeper Sonja van der Bliek’s foot for her first of two goals in the game.

After the high-scoring period, RPI was not done marking up the score sheet, netting three goals in the first seven minutes of the stanza. Wright’s second of the game came at 4:13, followed by another from Horton’s at 5:43, and a final goal from sophomore Jill Vandegrift at 7:02. Although the Raiders finished with marks from junior Jessi Waters and another from Stewart, Colgate ultimately could not keep up with Rensselaer, as the Engineers outshot their opposition 33-25.

Van der Bliek picked up her third victory of the year making 21 saves in the contest, while Colgate cycled through all three of its goaltenders, with Sass making nine saves, junior Lisa Plenderleith stopping 11 shots, and freshman Jocelyn Yokow turning away three in the loss. “We were absolutely relentless, went to the net hard, and got a lot of shots on net. Everyone played hard and smart; it was a full team effort,” added Harrison of the win. Horton agreed: “I think the reason we were so successful on Friday was that our team played really well together. Everyone worked hard and played well as a team, and I think that was one of the big differences.”

Unfortunately for RPI, Cornell arrived at the Houston Field House with just as much drive after its 4-0 shutout of Union College the night before. The nationally-ranked foe showed no mercy to the Engineers as the Big Red outshot 29-19, including 25 in the opening two periods alone.

Cornell opened scoring in the contest off a power play tally from freshman Laura Fortino at 15:19 into the first period. Sophomore wing Chealsea Karpenko blasted a shot through the slot that found the stick of Fortino in the far circle; Fortino was then able to bury the puck past van der Bliek on the glove side. Unlike the night before, the goal would be the only of the period as Cornell commanded control of the puck throughout much of the contest.

Late in the second, the Big Red increased its lead to two with just 19 seconds left on the clock. Karpenko collected a rebound from sophomore Kendice Ogilvie and rifled it toward RPI’s net. Although van der Bliek was able to make the save, the puck darted back out into traffic, where junior Hayley Hughes knocked it into the open side of the net.

With four seconds left in the period, RPI came back with its only goal of the night, cutting the deficit to a manageable one. O’Keefe chased the puck down the boards, bringing it back into play. Her shot deflected off the skate of a Cornell defender and straight out to Gersten, who blasted a shot over the glove of sophomore goaltender Amanda Mazzotta.

Heading to the third period with a wave of optimism, the Engineers could not pull off the win as Cornell netted an insurance goal midway through the period, sealing the score at 3-1 off sophomore Catherine White’s first of the year. Even with the two-goal deficit, Rensselaer kept on with its never-ending attack, bringing an entirely different team on the ice for the third. After giving up a total of 23 shots in the first two period, RPI kept the Big Red at bay, allowing only three opportunties for the final 20 minutes of play. In turn, the Engineers ramped up their play, placing 12 shots on net after combining for only eight prior to the second intermission.

Despite the score, Rensselaer had several chances to even the game in the third period, including a breakaway opportunity by senior Allysen Weidner at 7:41. RPI pulled van der Bliek in favor of the extra skater with a minute left in the game, but could not convert on the man advantage. Mazzotta finished the game with 18 saves, while van der Bliek put up a strong effort in net with 26 stops. “I think we could have gotten some more shots on Cornell,” said Horton. “I don’t think that we tested their goalie enough throughout the game.”

The Engineers remain home, finishing up a four-game homestand this weekend as they continue with conference play against a pair of Ivy League rivals. Friday night, RPI takes on Yale University at 7 pm, followed by a 4 pm match on Saturday against Brown University. “Both are gritty teams and we will have to work hard this weekend,” predicts Harrison. “But if we play with the fast pace and relentless attitude that we did last Friday, we can come away with two wins on the weekend.”