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Sarah Fillier helped lead Princeton past St. Lawrence in the ECAC quarterfinals

By Owen Tedford

This past weekend, the No. 7 ranked women’s hockey team (20–6–5, 15–4–3 ECAC) began postseason play with a bang. The Tigers beat St. Lawrence (14–15–7, 9–7–6), 4–1 on Friday evening and 6–2 on Saturday afternoon. Winning these two games moved Princeton on to the semifinals and meant the Tigers did not have to play a deciding third game on Sunday. Princeton leaves behind its decisive home-ice advantage – thanks to its rowdy fan support – and will travel to Ithaca, New York next weekend when it faces Cornell (22–4–6, 17–3–2) in the semifinals. 

On Friday night, the Tigers won 4–1 against the Saints, driven on by first-year forward Sarah Fillier’s first career hat trick during her first playoff game for Princeton. After a scoreless first period, Fillier netted her first goal of the night on a power play two minutes and 20 seconds into the second period. Less than a minute and a half later, Fillier quickly found the net for a second time after a strong forecheck by junior forward Carly Bullock generated a turnover. A great pass from first-year forward Maggie Connors found Fillier in the perfect spot to shoot and score from point-blank range. Fillier’s third goal came as the second period was nearing its end and she tipped in a shot by Bullock. St. Lawrence responded about 45 seconds later to bring the score to 3–1 at the end of the second period. Then, at the end of the third period, when the Saints had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, sophomore forward Annie MacDonald netted an empty-net goal to ensure a Tiger victory. Junior goalie Stephanie Neatby was between the pipes on Friday night and had an excellent game, making 30 saves on 31 shots.

On Saturday, with a chance to clinch the quarterfinals series, Princeton got off to a tough start with St. Lawrence scoring in the first 14 seconds of the game. With one second in the first period left, senior forward and co-captain Karlie Lund scored the first Tiger goal on an excellent shot with time expiring. Building off of this momentum, Bullock scored Princeton’s second goal in the first 1:17 of the second period to take its first lead of the game, a lead it would never relinquish. The Tigers’ third goal came off a Connors redirect on a shot by senior defender Kimiko Marinacci. A goal by the Saints made it a one-goal game heading into the third period. This difference did not last long, though, once the period began and Lund scored her second goal on a dump into the zone that slipped through St. Lawrence’s goalie. Fillier, not one to be left out, scored again on a one-on-one opportunity after she created a turnover at the Saints’ blue line. Then finally, the Tigers’ last goal came on a power-play with 3:38 remaining from sophomore forward Sharon Frankel. Neatby was again in goal for Princeton and made 24 saves on 26 shots.

This four-goal weekend for Fillier was just another feather in her cap of a great season. Fillier is a finalist for for ECAC Rookie of the Year and ECAC Hockey women’s Forward and crossed the 50-point mark during Friday’s game. She currently sits at 54 points, which is the first 50-point season by a Princeton player since 2004, and the most points by a Princeton player this century. Fillier credits much of this success to the quality of her Princeton teammates, saying that “We have a team of not only really quality players but they are all really great people.”

Next weekend, the Tigers will face Cornell in the ECAC semifinals on Saturday in Ithaca. A win Saturday would place Princeton in the final on Sunday against either Clarkson or Colgate. Lund commented, “Making the ECAC semifinals is a huge accomplishment for our team. As a freshman, St. Lawrence beat us in the quarterfinals, so coming into this past weekend I think we had some extra motivation to get redemption. We had two great games so hopefully we can keep up the tempo going into the semifinals.”

Senior defender and co-captain Stephanie Sucharda also remarked on the confidence that the team has going into the semifinals, “It definitely gives us some confidence to be the only team that made it out of the first round of the playoffs in two regulation games. We are hoping to continue building on that momentum this weekend.”

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