Ithaca, NY – Early mistakes proved too much to overcome as the #5 Clarkson University Women's Hockey team fell to the #3/4 Cornell University Big Red 6-3 on Friday afternoon.
The Golden Knights fall to 5-2-1 (0-1 ECAC Hockey) and remain on the road and will take on conference foe Colgate University tomorrow at 3:00 pm. The Big Red improves to 3-0-0 (1-0 ECAC Hockey) and will host St. Lawrence tomorrow.
Although Clarkson entered the game picked to win the ECAC by the coaches in a preseason poll, Cornell showed why they are the defending conference champions as they capitalized on early mistakes and used a relentless offensive attack to double up the Knights.
"To be honest, we are kind of happy with the effort we got tonight from the team which you wouldn't think after a loss like that," stated Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers. "The things that killed us were a few mental lapses in some critical areas of the ice. We handed them some good scoring opportunities off those lapses that you can't give a team like Cornell. We outshot them pretty convincingly but the big difference was they were able to capitalize on the few chances we gave them and we weren't able to bury ours. There are still some areas that we need to get better at if we want to accomplish the lofty goals that we have set for ourselves. Those are starting to get flushed out now so it will be important for us to make sure we improve in those areas moving forward."
Just over four minutes into the game Cornell caught a break when a Clarkson defender attempted to pass back to senior goaltender Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT), but Howe was not expecting the pass and the puck slid by her to put the Big Red up 1-0. Caroline DeBruin was credited with her first goal of the year on the play.
Finding the scoreboard again 85 seconds later, Jillian Saulnier beat Howe after passes from Emily Fulton and Jessica Campbell to give Cornell the 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
The Green and Gold got in on the scoring at the 11:30 mark when sophomore Shannon MacAulay (Mt. Herbert, PEI) took a pass from freshman Genevieve Bannon (Candiac, QUE) and beat Cornell goaltender Lauren Slebodnick to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. The goal was MacAulay's second on the season and Bannon recorded her third assist on the play. Senior captain Carly Mercer (Exeter, ONT) also assisted.
Putting an exclamation mark on a high-scoring first period, Saulnier added a third goal, again with help from Fulton and Campbell, to give the Big Red the 3-1 advantage heading into the first intermission. Despite outshooting the Big Red 15-7 in the first, the Knights found themselves in an early hole.
The Golden Knights faced their largest deficit of the year early in the second period when Kaitlin Doering found Hayleigh Cudmore, who beat Howe to put the Big Red up 4-1.
After having multiple opportunities throughout the middle of the second period, a five-minute major penalty against Cornell sparked the Golden Knight offense. Senior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) finished off assists frlom the Mercer sisters, Carly and sophomore Cayley Mercer and beat Slebodnick to cut Cornell's lead to 4-2 after two periods.
The Knights struck again 3:27 into the third as senior Brittany Styner (Calgary, ALB) took a pass from freshman defender Corrie Jacobson (Warren, ONT) and was able to beat Slebodnick for her second goal of the season to cut the lead to 4-3. Rattray also assisted.
Putting the game away for good, Campbell received a pass from Saulnier and beat Howe to put the Big Red up 5-3 with under seven minutes to play. Cornell would add a late power play goal to reach the 6-3 final.
The Golden Knights outshot the Big Red 41-24 on the afternoon, and Howe recorded 18 saves. The Clarkson offense kept Slebodnick busy all evening, but she was up to the challenge, recording 38 saves in the victory. Each team capitalized for one power play goal on six opportunities each.