Big Green Monster Ends Women’s Hockey’s Season

Chas Kurtz

It was a strong season for the women’s hockey team, but it was one that ended in disappointment. After advancing to the ECAC semifinals for the first time in team history last season, the Raiders hoped to build upon that success in the 2007-08 campaign. For the second consecutive season, however, the Big Green of Dartmouth prematurely ended their quest for ECAC glory by sweeping Colgate 2-0, this time in the quarterfinal round of the ECAC Tournament.

The sixth-seeded Raiders traveled to New Hampshire for a best-of-three showdown against third-seeded Dartmouth, the 10th-ranked team in the nation. It was a familiar foe for the women in maroon as the two sides had played the final game of the regular season the previous week. Dartmouth won that game, 4-1, but the score was deceiving as two goals in the final five minutes gave the Big Green plenty of insurance and the decisive victory.

There would not be plenty of insurance for either team in the first game of the playoffs. The game saw seven goals, but neither team held more than a one-goal advantage throughout the entire game. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they never had the lead and lost a heartbreaker, 4-3.

The Big Green’s Larissa Laroche struck first with a goal from the slot 5:32 into the first period. but Colgate responded quickly. Junior forward Sam Hunt, Colgate’s all-time leading scorer in D-I play, won a draw in the Dartmouth zone, and sophomore forward Marissa Dombovy did the rest as she fired the puck into the back of the net. The tie, however, was short-lived. Dartmouth reclaimed the advantage at 13:57 of the period when Sarah Parsons beat first-year goaltender Lisa Plenderleith, and the Big Green took the 2-1 advantage into the first intermission.

It did not take the Raiders long to knot the game at two as Hunt fired a rebound past Dartmouth goaltender Carli Clemis just 1:05 into the second period. Dombovy and senior Kara Leene recorded the assists. The Big Green took the advantage once again with a controversial power play goal midway through the period. It did not come without debate, however, as the goal light turned red to signal the goal, but Plenderleith appeared to have the puck. After an official discussion, the goal was credited to Dartmouth’s Amanda Trunzo.

Continuing with the theme of the night, the Raiders once again tied the game. After three straight Big Green penalties early in the third period, Dombovy knotted the game at three with a power play tally on the two-man advantage. Hunt and fellow junior linesmate Elin Brown recorded the assists.

The game looked destined for overtime as both teams struggled to find offensive momentum over the final ten minutes of the game. With just 24 seconds remaining, however, disaster struck for the Raiders when Dartmouth’s Sarah Parsons fired a shot over Plenderleith’s right shoulder for the game-winning goal. The Raiders pulled Plenderleith for the remainder of the game in a desperate attempt to score, but it was to no avail. Dartmouth won the game, 4-3 to take the 1-0 advantage in the series.

“The loss on Friday was difficult to rebound from,” Dombovy said afterwards. “It was hard to lose in the final minute.”

The following day the Big Green stormed out to a big lead and held on for a comfortable 4-2 victory. With two goals in the first period and two more in the second, the final outcome was not in doubt as Dartmouth began the third period with a 4-0 lead, but the Raiders did not give up. Hunt added to her spectacular season by scoring two third period goals, but that was as close as the Raiders would get. The final score of the season’s final game was 4-2.

“We fought until the final buzzer in both Dartmouth games, even though we were down,” Plenderleith said. “I think our team showed a lot of character coming back three times on Friday night and almost coming back all the way on Saturday. We really pulled together as a team as best we could. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the bounces that could have put us on the winning end of the series.”

Despite the disappointed finish, there is great optimism for next season as the Raiders return a large group of experienced and talented players.

“I think we are going to come back next season with a new sense of purpose,” Plenderleith added. “We all know what to expect, as our league is only going to get stronger. We can’t take any opponents lightly and we’ll need to show up every day prepared to work harder than we did the day before. I am looking forward to a season full of new experiences and new achievements.”