CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On Tuesday, there would be no letdown for No. 3 Harvard against New Hampshire with an NCAA championship rematch against No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth on the horizon.
In a dominant 4-0 victory, the Crimson (11-0) controlled play from the start and never looked back. Harvard co-captains Lauren McAuliffe and Angela Ruggiero each had a goal and an assist against the Wildcats (7-5-2).
The performance, in which Harvard outshot UNH 28-6, was reminiscent of a year ago when the Crimson beat the Wildcats 7-1 at the Bright Center and outshot them 51-3. Harvard coach Katey Stone thought last year’s game was the best of the season to that point, and she felt the same way this night.
“We were on tonight, we were ready to go,” Stone said. “I felt we prepared well. Keeping it simple makes a huge difference for us. We played helping defense and team offense.”
Harvard felt it wanted to step up its performance from Saturday and Sunday, when it had trailed in the second period of an 8-3 win over Cornell and beaten Colgate just 2-0.
“That weekend we didn’t do all the little things that we wanted and we didn’t want to let UNH in this game,” said Ruggiero. “We knew they were a strong team and we had to respect them.”
The victory, the Crimson’s 12th in a row over UNH, extended the best start in Harvard history. UNH could not keep up against Harvard’s 2-3 forecheck and quick puck movement after gaining possession.
“They’re a very quick team and in the first period we played a little scrambly,” said UNH coach Brian McCloskey. “I made some adjustments and I don’t think they were the right things, and it caught us defensive zone-wise. Then after that we started to play with them and competed hard. I know they skate when they play us and they get fired up. We’re certainly seeing their best shot when they come here.”
McAuliffe scored the game’s first goal at 13:16 of the first period when she received a pass from freshman Jennifer Sifers shortly after coming out of the penalty box. UNH freshman goalie Melissa Bourdon stopped the initial shot, but McAuliffe was in position to stuff home the rebound while Bourdon was sprawled.
Harvard scored its second goal on a delayed penalty drawn by senior Mina Pell, which Pell quickly turned into a goal as she dished to sophomore defenseman Jaclyn Pitushka at the point, and sophomore Julie Chu deflected her powerful shot home.
Ruggiero put Harvard up 3-0 by banging home a power-play goal from the point, set up on a feed from behind the net by McAuliffe. Junior Ashley Banfield also earned an assist.
Freshman Katie Johnston made the score 4-0 when she backhanded in a rebound off a shot from the point by Banfield.
Barely tested, Boe made six saves, though one was a diving blocker stop in the third period to shut the door. She also covered the puck well when there was a scrum in front the net at the 10:30 mark of the third period.
Bourdon stopped 24 of 28 shots for the game. It was the toughest test she had faced all year, and McCloskey called her performance a positive.
UNH next plays Dartmouth on Friday. Harvard looks forward to the big series at Duluth.
“We’re much better than we were [last] weekend, we want to be much better this weekend,” Stone said. “We’ve had a competitive schedule and now it’s time to ratchet it up a bit. We’ve got some competitive kids on our team.”