Women's hockey advances to ECAC semifinals after defeating Quinnipiac in quarterfinal series
After falling in the first game in a three-test series against Quinnipiac, the women’s ice hockey team came back to win the next two games of the weekend. They are now heading to the ECAC semi-finals next weekend.
Lasting 106 minutes and 34 seconds, the first game was the longest in both University men and women’s ice hockey history, taking the game into three overtime periods. After a hard-fought battle by both teams, it was Quinnipiac that came out on top, scoring from a 3-on-2 situation at the 6:34 mark in the third overtime period.
Freshman goalkeeper Steph Neatby, who saved 60 of the 63 shots from the Bobcats, set a program record for most amount of shots saved in one game. Neatby told The Daily Princetonian, “I never could’ve made it to the saves record without my teammates being relentless and pushing for the win the whole game. Watching them put their bodies on the line, blocking shots and doing whatever it takes was incredible.”
Princeton led the game in the second third, 2-0 with goals from freshman forward Carly Bullock and senior defender and captain Kelsey Koelzer, but a strong comeback attempt from Quinnipiac took it to overtime where the Bobcats snatched the win and led the series 1-0.
The next game then became a must-win for Princeton, which proved no easy task after playing three overtime periods. The remainder of the weekend came down to which team was fitter and could play under fatigue.
After a long review by the officials, sophomore defenseman Kimiko Marinacci was granted her first goal of the season and of the game in the second period, ensuring that the Tigers took the lead. Senior forward Cassidy Tucker then doubled Princeton’s lead just two minutes later as she was fighting to keep her collegiate career going.
In the same situation as the first game, 2-0 up at the end of the second quarter, Princeton managed to hold onto their advantage, and Neatby shut out Quinnipiac, saving a total of 29 shots, arguably a quiet day compared to the 60 saves the day before. The series now stood at 1-1 and was set up for a winner-takes-all game on Sunday.
Playing for the chance in the ECAC semifinals this weekend, facing Clarkson, Princeton would be trying to accomplish something that the team has not done since the 2005-2006 season. Senior forward Molly Contini and freshman defender Sylvie Wallin beat the Bobcats’ defense, both scoring in the first period, which gave the Tigers control for much of the game. Quinnipiac ended up chasing the final game in a comeback attempt similar to the first game, and although they did get one past Neatby when they pulled their goalkeeper, time expired before the Bobcats had a chance to level the score.
In a physically and emotionally demanding weekend, Princeton won the test series 2-1 overall, with six different players scoring their six goals and Neatby making a total of 117 saves, allowing just four goals.
The goalkeeper said, “I am extremely excited for the ECAC semifinals. My teammates were unbelievable this weekend and I think we showed that we are capable of anything. Pushing through the adversity of the triple overtime loss showed so much character and grit, and I am very proud to be a member of this team.” She went on to say, “I know that we want to shoot for more than just making it to the semifinals. I believe in this group of girls and know that we would do anything to keep the run going.”
The Tigers now face Clarkson this weekend on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Clarkson’s Cheel Arena. Princeton met Clarkson twice earlier this year, losing both games narrowly, so the ECAC semi-final will be an interesting matchup.