Hat trick sparks women’s hockey win

Rensselaer defeats Yale University 5-0 off three-goal effort by rookie forward

FRESHMAN ELEEZA COX STARES down the goaltender in a recent game at the Houston Field House. Cox led the Engineers to a 5-0 win over the Yale Bulldogs with her first collegiate hat trick.

After a disappointing last few weekends, RPI women’s hockey is back on track following a 2-2 tie with the Brown University Bears and a 5-0 shutout of the Yale University Bulldogs. The win and tie now puts the Engineers at 3-7-4 overall, and 1-3-2 in ECAC play, while the Bears move to 2-2-3 overall with a 1-2-3 conference record. The Bulldogs currently sit at the bottom of the league standings with a 1-8 overall record, including a 1-5 mark within the ECAC. Leading the way for the Engineers was freshman Eleeza Cox, who netted a hat trick against Yale on Saturday.

Friday evening’s match against the Bears started scoreless for the first 20 minutes of play, but homestanding Brown made it a 1-0 contest midway through the second frame. Senior Skyelar Siwak received a pass from classmate Katelyn Landry and was able to pop the biscuit out of freshman goaltender Kelly O’Brien’s reach at 10:33.

The Engineers quickly responded, however, to knot the game at one. Less than 25 seconds later, sophomore Toni Sanders converted on a pass from junior Taylor Horton to beat Brown sophomore goalie Aubree Moore at 11:18. Cox earned the second assist on the play. Less than a minute later, Horton made it a 2-1 game after deflecting a shot from the point by sophomore Madison Marzario.

Although Rensselaer held onto the narrow lead for much of the remaining time in regulation, the Bears came back in the final minutes of the third frame to knot the score at two. Freshman Sarah Robson netted the unassisted goal at 6:00, sending the game into overtime as neither team could find the go-ahead marker.

RPI placed four shots on net during the five minute sudden death overtime, but could not beat Moore to find the game winner. Moore finished with 34 saves for the Bears, while O’Brien made 20 stops for the Engineers.

The following afternoon saw Rensselaer ramp up its offensive prowess, putting 52 shots on Yale senior goaltender Genny Ladiges while RPI freshman netminder Brianna Piper earned her first collegiate victory after stopping all 15 shots faced. In addition to Cox’s three goals, senior Jill Vandegrift and sophomore Jordan Smelker also lit the lamp.

Cox’s first goal of the afternoon came late in the first period while on a power play. Smelker and senior captain Alisa Harrison earned assists on the play, which came at 17:53. Midway through the second frame, Vandegrift made it a 2-0 advantage after scoring off a pass from freshman Taylor Mahoney. The goal, which came at 16:40, was also assisted by senior Amanda Castignetti. Minutes later at 19:09, Smelker notched her third goal of the season after burying a pass from senior Sierra Vadner to the back of the net.

Rensselaer, putting up 20 shots in the first period and 14 in the second, showed no signs of slowing down in the third and final frame. Yale freshman Madi Murray committed a costly mistake for the Bulldogs after closing her hand on the puck to give the Engineers a penalty shot. Cox easily slipped the puck past Ladiges to give the visitors a 4-0 advantage at 3:01.

Three minutes later at 6:14, Cox completed the hat trick with her second power play goal of the match. Cox converted on a pass from Smelker to close out scoring for the game with her fourth tally of the season.

The Engineers return home this weekend as they host defending national champions and currently top-ranked University of Wisconsin Badgers at the Houston Field House. The Badgers, who have won four of the last six national titles, will come to Troy for a 7 pm match on Friday and at 4 pm on Saturday.