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MacKenzie Ebel ’20 celebrates her breakaway goal.

By Owen Tedford

This weekend, the No. 5 ranked women’s hockey team (15–2–3 ECAC, 18–4–5) played their last home games in the 2018–2019 regular season. The Tigers hosted Union (2–17–1, 4–26–2) on Friday night and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) (10–9–1, 13–14–5) Saturday afternoon for the Senior Day game. Princeton’s split this weekend with a win against Union and loss against RPI means that they still lead the ECAC, but going into the last weekend of the regular season play they lead Cornell by just one point. A loss by Clarkson (15–5–0, 24–7–1) in overtime to Dartmouth (4–15–1 ECAC, 5–20–2) on Friday means that Princeton leads them by three points.

On Friday night, the Tigers defeated Union 4–1 behind two goals by first-year forward Maggie Connors. Connors’ first goal was the lone goal in the first period and came in a 5–on–3 power play assisted by senior forward Karlie Lund and first-year forward Sarah Fillier. Fillier struck next with a great goal where she took the puck through center ice before shooting over the goalie’s shoulder. Princeton’s third goal was the highlight of the game when junior forward MacKenzie Ebel came out of the penalty box and took a loose puck from center ice on a breakaway and buried the shot. After not scoring her first goal of the year until last weekend, this was Ebel’s second straight weekend with a goal. Ebel talked about how her first goal helped her. “After getting that first goal out of the way, I didn’t have to grip my stick so tight and could relax and play with more confidence.”

Union scored next to take away the shut-out from first-year goalie Cassie Reale who is undefeated in her four starts this year. Connors scored her second goal of the game in the last minute to finish the game off. 

On Saturday against RPI, one of the best goalies currently in the ECAC continued to play incredibly well. Lovisa Selander made 57 saves and gave up one goal to lead the Engineers to a 2–1 victory. Coming into the weekend, Selander has the second highest save percentage in the country at 94.4 percent just behind Harvard’s Lindsay Reed at 94.5 percent. RPI’s first goal came eight minutes into the first period and junior forward Carly Bullock responded for Princeton before the first period was over to tie the game at one. The Engineers got their second goal with eight minutes left in the second period and despite continued pressure from the Tigers’ offense, none of their shots found the back of the net. Sophomore goalie Rachel McQuigge made 20 saves in a game that was dominated by Princeton’s offensive pressure. Princeton also honored its seniors after the game in their last regular season home game: defender Emily Achterkirch, forward Keiko DeClerck, Lund, defender Kimiko Marinacci, and defender Stephanie Sucharda.  

Next weekend, the Tigers will try to clinch the ECAC regular season title when they travel to No.4 Clarkson and St. Lawrence (8–7–5, 13–13–6) next Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. respectively. As Lund commented last weekend, Princeton is still in control of its own destiny — a sweep this coming weekend will clinch them the title. Princeton has secured a home quarterfinal in the ECAC playoffs the weekend after. The quarterfinals for the ECAC is a three — game series, but which team the Tigers will play is still unclear. The top four seeds (Princeton, Cornell, Clarkson, Colgate) and the bottom four seeds (RPI, St. Lawrence, Harvard, Quinnipiac) are all determined into those groups, but the standings are still up for grabs. The first group is separated by four points between Princeton (33) and Colgate (29) while the second is separated by one point with RPI and St. Lawrence at 21 and Harvard and Quinnipiac at 20. 

For those unable to make the trip, the games will be streamed online on ESPN+ for those in the US and for those abroad there is a link on the website to access a stream. There will also be live updates available on the Princeton Women’s Hockey Twitter (@PWIH). 

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