Women's hockey readies for ECACHL playoffs

The weekend had both its ups and downs for the women’s hockey team. Despite falling to both No. 9 Cornell University and Colgate University in the final two games of the regular season, RPI finished fifth in the league, setting up for a playoff date against the No. 4 seed Quinnipiac University this Friday and Saturday. Rensselaer, with the two losses, finishes the regular season 14-13-6 overall and 11-7-4 in ECAC action, while Cornell improves to 14-8-6 overall and 13-2-6 in the league and Colgate increases their overall record to 12-18-4 and its conference record to 8-10-4.

Earlier this season at the Houston Field House, the Engineers shouldered a hard-fought loss against the Big Red. RPI faced a similar fate this weekend, getting narrowly edged out by Cornell by a score of 2-1.

The Big Red placed on the boards at the 15:47 mark of the first period. Junior forward Hayley Hughes received a pass from classmate Amber Overguard, and snuck the biscuit past Rensselaer junior netminder Sonja van der Bliek. The low-scoring game saw RPI placed only three shots on net in the opening frame, while Cornell did no better with only five attempts.

Both teams ramped up playing heading into the second period, with the Big Red challenging van der Bliek 11 times, and the Engineers capitalizing on one of seven shots on net. Senior co-captain Laura Gersten knotted the game up at one with an even-strength goal at 5:16 of the second. The tally, Gersten’s sixth of the year, was assisted by sophomores Amanda Castignetti and Jill Vandegrift.

The third period played out much like the first, with the exception that Cornell nabbed the go-ahead goal, bringing the score to 2-1. Big Red sophomore Catherine White started the play by carrying the puck along the boards to van der Bliek’s left before sending the biscuit to Overguard in front of the net. Overguard was able to bury the puck for her 11th mark of the year.

Cornell sophomore goaltender Amanda Mazzotta blocked all four shots faced in the second period, and 13 of 14 throughout the game to earn the win. For the Engineers, van der Bliek stopped 25 of 27 attempts on the night.

RPI finished out its regular season at Starr Rink to face the Colgate Raiders, who were out for revenge after a 10-4 thrashing received back at the Houston Field House in November. The Raiders redeemed themselves, coming away with the 3-2 victory in the final minutes of play.

Colgate opened scoring as senior Katie Stewart tallied a power play marker just 3:27 into the opening period, her 23rd of the season and first of two in the game. Rensselaer freshman Taylor Horton evened the game up at one at 12:05 on her seventh goal of the season. Sophomore Alisa Harrison and freshman defenseman Andie Le Donne both earned helpers on the play.

The game remained tied until 2:27 of the second period when Stewart nailed her second of the night off a pass from senior Marissa Dombovy. Neither team would collect another goal in the second, which saw Colgate collect 15 shots on net as opposed to RPI’s nine.

Heading into the third facing a 2-1 deficit, Harrison pulled the Engineers even at 4:32 with her 10th marker of the year. Horton, along with Castignetti, earned assists on the game-tying goal, which came on the power play after senior Ali Edell earned two minutes in the sin bin for roughing.

The Raiders, who outshot RPI 35-23 throughout the game, came back to find the game-winner at 7:51, just seconds after an Engineer was sent to the penalty box. Dombovy earned her sixth goal of the year off a pass from senior Beth Rotenberg.

Van der Bliek stopped 32 shots in the loss, while junior netminder Lisa Plenderleith blocked 21 attempts in the victory.

The win secured Colgate’s position as the eighth and final seed, sending the team to face regular season league champion Cornell at Lynah Rink next weekend. Rensselaer will face the Bobcats Friday at 4 pm, and again Saturday at 2 pm at the T.D. Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. A game on Sunday, scheduled at 2 pm, will be played only if necessary in the best-of-three round.

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