For several weeks this season, the women’s hockey team (19-5-1 overall, 12-5-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) has overcome challenges to produce consistent success. This past weekend proved to be no different as the No. 9 Tigers took down ECAC rival No. 10 Colgate (17-6-7, 9-4-5) by a score of 4-2 on Friday. Princeton then proceeded to shut out Cornell (9-12-4, 5-9-4) 5-0, clinching the Ivy League championship, which is awarded to the school with the best Ivy conference record.
A road challenge for the Tigers, Friday night’s match against Colgate pitted the two teams, both tied for No. 3 in the ECAC, against each other. The game carried even greater stakes because as the end-of-season ECAC championships approach, every win increases the Tigers’ chances of gaining home ice advantage in the tournament.
Providing insight into the significance of Friday’s match in terms of rankings, junior forward Fiona McKenna explained, “Our biggest goal was to get four points, two points for each win. In fact, we didn’t want to focus on huge goals.”
Clearly the Tigers were successful in reaching their goal. Princeton now controls the No. 3 spot in ECAC and is only one point behind second place Clarkson, and four behind top-seeded Quinnipiac.
Despite the Tigers’ recent success, it was Colgate who scored Friday’s first goal, less than three minutes into the match. Princeton’s freshman forward and ECAC Rookie of the Month Karlie Lund responded two minutes later by tieing the game at a goal apiece. Lund’s goal was just the beginning of a phenomenal night for the star rookie.
After a goal from freshman forward Keiko DeClerck and a second Colgate goal, the two teams entered the third period tied at 2-2. However, Lund would score two unanswered goals in the final period to secure the game for the Tigers. On top of Lund’s defense, senior goaltender Kimberly Newell recorded 37 saves, cutting off every Colgate attempt to come back.
The Colgate match secured Princeton’s standing in both national and ECAC rankings but the real celebration came on Saturday against Cornell when the Tigers won their first Ivy League Championship in ten years.
The historic game raced to a controversial start when officials discounted junior forward Hilary Lloyd’s power-play goal three minutes into the game. Though unfortunate, the moment proved to be pivotal for the Tigers’ eventual success. McKenna reflected, “Versus Cornell, in previous years we would have been down and given up, but it just fueled us. We used the bad luck as fuel this weekend.”
Following a scoreless first period, the Tigers came out with energy and poise in the second period. Junior forward Cassidy Tucker and senior forward Cristin Shanahan both scored to give the Tigers a commanding 2-0 lead.
To finish off Cornell, freshman defender Kimiko Marinacci scored early in the third, and junior forwards Morgan Sly and Hilary Lloyd each contributed an empty net goal.
Given the dominating performance, the Tigers began to celebrate with two minutes remaining in the game. McKenna recounted, “The best moment was at the end of the Cornell game. We were all jumping on the bench and celebrating. Everyone was so happy and there was a smile on everyone’s face.”
To be sure, the Tigers entered Saturday’s game expecting to bring home the championship, given their stellar 12-game winning streak earlier this season. Instead, the victory was more a testament to the Tigers’ determination and grit. Again, McKenna explained, “We knew that as long as we put in the work good things would happen. It wasn’t a surprise, but it felt so great knowing that it paid off. We stuck to the plan.”
Princeton will maintain home ice advantage in the final four games of the season. At the top of the opponent list is No. 2 Clarkson, whom the Tigers will face this Friday.
Though successful throughout the season, the Tigers remain humble and ready to improve. To provide insight into the team’s efforts and goals heading into the final home stretch, McKenna concluded, “I think that we are always trying to improve. Every day we work on playing a full 60 minutes. That’s the goal. I think that’s always something we work on until the final whistle blows. We just need to keep it rolling and stick together.”