Rensselaer drops two against Colgate, Cornell

Engineers nearly pull out victory against Raiders, put up valiant effort against Big Red

SENIOR JILL VANDEGRIFT SKATES with the puck in RPI’s home game against local rival Union College last week. Despite a strong effort from the Engineers, the women’s hockey team failed to come home with a win this weekend, falling to nationally-ranked Cornell University in a 3-0 decision along with a 3-2 loss to the Colgate University Raiders.

Despite a strong effort by the women’s hockey team, the Engineers finished the weekend 0-2 after suffering losses to No. 3 Cornell University and Colgate University on the road. Rensselaer fell in a 3-0 decision to the Cornell Big Red before getting narrowly edged by the Colgate Raiders in a 3-2 match. RPI is now 8-18-4 overall on the season with a 5-11-2 conference record. Cornell, the league’s best team, is 21-3 overall including a 16-2 league mark, while Colgate is 10-18-1 overall with a 5-12-1 ECAC record.

Friday night’s match against the Big Red saw freshman goaltender Kelly O’Brien make 34 saves for the Engineers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Cornell’s strong offense. Rensselaer’s defense played outstanding in the first period, killing off three power play opportunities including 58 seconds of four-on-three play.

However, the second period saw the Big Red convert on three of its 18 shots in the period to gain the lead and eventual game-winner. Midway through the period, at 8:31, a slap shot by junior Lauriana Rougeau from the blue line made its way past O’Brien. Just over a minute later, senior captain Catherine White carried the puck down into the Engineers’ zone and made a last-second pass to classmate Chelsea Karpenko, who buried the biscuit.

With 3:32 remaining in the period, sophomore Alyssa Gagliardi blasted a shot from the blue line that hit the back of Rensselaer’s cage. Sophomore goaltender Laura Slebodnick, who holds one of the best goals against averages in Division-I hockey, made 12 stops for her fourth shutout of the season. O’Brien made 34 saves for the Engineers.

The next afternoon saw Rensselaer take on the Colgate Raiders. Both teams skated through scoreless first and second periods before they combined for five goals in the third. Despite a last ditch effort by the Engineers to tie the game, it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit created by homestanding Colgate.

Sophomore Raider Rachel Walsh scored the game’s first goal at 2:10 of the third period—her sixth of the season. Less than a minute later at 2:58, junior Taylor Horton scored her first of two on the night for the Engineers, with the assists going to freshman Taylor Mahoney and senior captain Alisa Harrison.

Colgate regained the lead a minute later at 3:58 off freshman Melissa Kueber’s 11th tally of the season, and followed with her 12th of the year at 14:53, which proved to be the game-winner. Horton rallied for her seventh goal of the season at 19:19 with help from freshman Eleeza Cox and junior Andie Le Donne, but the RPI offense couldn’t come up with another tally in the final seconds of play to send the match into overtime.

O’Brien made 15 saves, while Colgate senior goaltender Kimberly Sass made 19 stops for the Raiders.

Rensselaer is currently tied for the eighth and final seed for the ECAC playoffs with Brown University. With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Engineers need to step up their game to see postseason action. RPI plays its final home matches this weekend at the Houston Field House, taking on Harvard University on Friday at 7 pm, and Dartmouth University on Saturday at 4 pm.