Cornell Sweeps Women’s Hockey in ECAC Quarterfinals

The Colgate women’s hockey season came to its conclusion last weekend, as the Raiders were swept by the Cornell Big Red in their best-of-three series. Colgate fell 2-1 on Friday night, before losing 5-0 in the decisive game on Saturday.

The losses marked the culmination of an up-and-down season that went exactly as predicted. Picked to finish 8th in the 2009-10 ECAC Preseason Poll, the Raiders did just that, as a sweep of Rensselaer and Union propelled Colgate to the eighth and final seed in the ECAC playoffs. There, the Raiders ran into a Cornell side that was simply superior to them in almost every aspect of the game. With only two ECAC losses all season, Cornell was always going to be a difficult opponent for Colgate, especially within the not-so-cozy confines of James Lynah Rink, where Cornell had not lost since January 5. Throw in the fact that Cornell had given up just two goals in the six games leading up to this series, and the task became even greater.

Still, Colgate came out fighting in Game 1, keeping the game even until halfway through the first period. At the 10:02 mark, Cornell’s first-year defender Laura Fortino fired past Colgate junior goaltender Lisa Plenderleith to give the Big Red a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, the advantage was doubled, as sophomore forward Kendice Ogilvie netted for Cornell.

Possessing such a miserly defense made the rest of the game seem like a formality for the Big Red, but come the third period, their comfort level dropped significantly. On their only power play of the period, four and a half minutes in, Colgate finally got on the board. Senior forward Evan Minnick took advantage of the extra skater, shooting past Cornell goaltender Amanda Mazzotta, assisted by junior Jacquie Colborne, to set up a tense final 15 minutes. The Raiders fought hard the rest of the way, outshooting Cornell, 10-6, in the final frame, but could not find the equalizer.

Game Two was over almost as soon as it started. Seven and a half minutes into the first period, and just 47 seconds into Cornell’s first power play of the game, the Big Red took the lead. Sophomore forward Catherine White, Cornell’s leader in points this season, buried her chance to make the game 1-0. Just under two minutes later, White struck again, to take Cornell’s lead to 2-0. A Laura Danforth goal with four minutes remaining in the period sent the teams into the first intermission with Colgate trailing by three.

The rest of the game was characterized by ruthless efficiency on the Cornell power play. Cornell’s first-year defender Lauriane Rougeau scored power play goals in both the second and third period, both coming within the first minute of that particular man-advantage. Rougeau’s goals were the final tallies of the game, and at the final buzzer, Cornell took home a 5-0 win, booking passage to the ECAC semi-final, where they will face Rensselaer.

The loss is a disappointing end to Colgate’s season, albeit not an unexpected one. The Raiders finish the season with a 12-20-4 overall record, 8-10-4 in the ECAC. With only six graduating seniors, and a solid, young nucleus, expect Colgate to make its presence felt in the ECAC in 2010-11.