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Women's hockey completes historic upset, defeating top-seeded Harvard in ECAC quarterfinals

<h5>The Tigers are the first No. 8 seed to ever advance to the ECAC playoff semifinals.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of @PWIH/Twitter.</h6>
The Tigers are the first No. 8 seed to ever advance to the ECAC playoff semifinals.
Courtesy of @PWIH/Twitter.

The Tigers have shocked the collegiate hockey world.

On Sunday afternoon, women’s hockey (13–14–5 overall, 9–10–3 Eastern College Athletic Conference) completed a historic upset, defeating top-seeded Harvard (22–9–1, 16–5–1) in their Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) first-round playoff series. The Tigers won the first and third game in the best-of-three series, and in the process, they became the first No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed in the ECAC women’s tournament. The team will travel to Yale next weekend for the single-elimination portion of the tournament, with a chance to advance to the final. 

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The first game of the series was historic in and of itself, as it was the first time a No. 8 seed won a first-round game, let alone advanced to the second round. The Tigers won 4–2 in Cambridge with two goals from senior forward Shannon Griffin and 38 saves from senior goalie Rachel McQuigge. Sophomore forward Annie Kuehl and senior forward Sharon Frankel also scored for the Tigers, who never trailed in the game.

In game two, Harvard (which was also ranked No. 6 nationally entering the series) pulled the series even at one game apiece with a 2–1 OT win. First-year forward Grace Kuipers gave the Tigers a lead early in the second period, but the Crimson scored 1:09 into the third period to tie it at 1–1. Neither team scored in the final 19 minutes of the game and went to overtime. Just 12 seconds into the extra period, Harvard’s Kristi Della Rovere scored to force a do-or-die game three. 

In the final game, the Tigers took care of business. 

After Becca Gilmore scored for Harvard to open the scoring, Frankel responded 4:15 later by knocking home a loose puck to tie the game 1–1. Neither team scored in the second period, sending the game to the third period tied. 

3:21 into the final period, junior forward Maggie Connors rushed down the right side and roofed a wrister to put the Tigers ahead 2–1. Princeton doubled down on their lead when Griffin hit a pass in front that banked off of the Crimson goalie and into the back of the net for a 3–1 lead. 

From then on out, the Tigers’ main goal was to hold the lead. Harvard appeared to have cut the deficit to one with under four minutes left, but the goal was waved off for goaltender interference. With 1:10 to go, Harvard’s Anne Bloomer put one past McQuigge, and this time it stood, making it 3–2. 

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After that, Princeton stood tall, stonewalling the Crimson and holding on for the major upset. The Tigers now turn their focus on Yale, who is the No. 2 seed in the ECAC tournament and ranked No. 7 nationally by USCHO.com. Yale and Princeton split their season series, with Princeton winning 2–0 back in October, and Yale winning 3–0 last weekend. 

Ben Burns is an Associate Sports Editor at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers basketball, hockey, and soccer. He can be reached at bwburns@princeton.edu or on Twitter @bwburns5_.

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