PROVIDENCE, R.I. — No. 3 Harvard was up against adversity in Tuesday night’s game against No. 6 Providence given its inexperience and Olympians Julie Chu and Angela Ruggiero’s lasting jet lag from the Four Nations Cup. But in a tough physical, defensive battle, the Crimson (3-0) were able to cash in their chances, and Providence could not.
Junior Nicole Corriero scored a breakaway goal, captain Angela Ruggiero added a power-play goal in the third period, and Corriero chipped in an empty-netter to give the Crimson a 3-0 victory. Providence (1-2-2) was dangerous early in the first period and had several chances to tie the game late in the second and early in the third period, but the Crimson held strong. Sophomore Ali Boe made 19 saves for the shutout, while sophomore Jana Bugden stopped 21 for the Friars.
“It was a great win for us,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “We played pretty well. We didn’t play great and still won. That makes me encouraged.
“Providence is a very good team that has a lot of games under their belts thus far this season. They’re going to be right in the hunt down the stretch.”
The first goal was set up as pressure from sophomore Chu and Corriero forced a turnover in the neutral zone, where Ruggiero had sent the puck. Chu nudged the puck ahead to Corriero, who was off to the races. With flawless control she lifted the puck up around Bugden’s left side for the finish.
“I think the important thing is to know what you’re going before you go on the goalie instead of changing your mind at the last minute,” Corriero said of the goal. “It didn’t work the first time so I tried to make sure it worked the second time.”
Providence had its best chances to score in the first period, as Harvard struggled with its defensive zone coverage and let the Friars get a good look at the nets. But the Crimson defense time and time again barely cleared out rebounds to prevent Providence from putting anything trhough.
“Our defense did the little things like clearing rebounds and clearing players in front of the net, you know it just makes our forwards’ job a lot easier when we’re backchecking and playing defensive zone,” Corriero said.
For most of the second period, Harvard was letting almost nothing actually reach the net thanks to its aggressive play in the defensive zone.
The Friars had several breakaway chances in the third period. Providence’s Kelli Halcisak had a clear look on the net when she circled around the entire defense off a faceoff, but she slipped up in Boe’s presence.
Later in the third, Providence had a 3-on-1 with Ashley Banfield left to hold the fort. But Halcisak passed back to Hillary Greaves who lost control.
“Other teams make mistakes, and they cash in,” said Providence coach Bob Deraney, who was overall pleased with his team’s performance. “They make mistakes, and we can’t score on them. You just gotta keep working through it.”
Harvard kept trying to get some insurance on the counterattack, and couldn’t cash in until a third period power play, where Ruggiero scored on a screen shot from the point while unpressured, and her teammates had cleared a path for the puck to the right post. That iced the game.
“Every time I have the puck I was trying to get it on net,” Ruggiero said. “And they were doing a great job blocking my shot and I was just trying to get through. I know we had a girl intended to screen in front of the net.”
Harvard finished 1-for-7 on the power play.
Providence next plays Yale on Saturday and at Princeton on Sunday in a pair of nonleague games. Before playing Niagara, Harvard has 11 days of rest, which Stone was very thankful for.