HANOVER, N.H. — When all anyone can talk about after a 3-0 shutout is the losing goalkeeper, you know the winning forwards must have been good.
When those same forwards lead the team to a 4-3 win the next day, you know they needed to be good.
Despite a 42-save performance by Yale’s Sarah Love, Dartmouth got two goals apiece from Tiffany Hagge and Katie Weatherston to wrap up its quarterfinal series and move on to next weekend’s ECAC championships at Union.
“They certainly have a goalie,” said Dartmouth coach Mark Hudak of the Bulldogs. “They do a nice job, and they play well as a team.
“This weekend has traditionally been ‘Survival Weekend,’ because kids are in exams. It’s just, ‘Let’s get through this so we can refocus next week.’”
“We know we’re making strides as a program,” said Yale coach Hillary Witt, “but we thought we could win. I think we proved to everybody that we had that opportunity, and I’m sure there’s a lot of teams out there that wouldn’t mind having our goaltender on their team going into the end of the season.”
“The worst thing is when you know you gave everything you had and you lose.”
The Big Green came out stronger than they had a day earlier. The renewed energy — not to mention a few Yale penalties, led to 18 first period shots for the Big Green. However, Love picked up right where she left off, stopping every one. Kate Lane stopped four shots for the Big Green, and the teams headed to the first intermission with no score.
Love added six more saves to open the second period, but just as in Game 1, a Dartmouth power play proved to be too much. Tiffany Hagge, playing the point in this weekend’s series, beat the Yale netminder glove side to give Dartmouth a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, a 5-on-3 gave Yale several chances to even the score, but instead Dartmouth made good. Team scoring leader Katie Weatherston poked in a Gillian Apps rebound just after the teams returned to even strength to put Dartmouth up 2-0.
The Bulldogs would get a goal of their own, though, as a shot from the blue line by Christina Sharun found its way through traffic and into the back of the net. Another Dartmouth penalty gave Yale another chance to tie, but Hagge had other ideas, taking a pass from Cherie Piper, snaking through the Yale defense and lifting the puck over Love’s stick for a shorthanded tally that made it 3-1 at the second intermission.
“I saw Piper get it along the boards, ” Hagge said, and I just took off toward center ice. She had a great pass, right on the tape, and I was fortunate enough to go around the defender. I knew I was facing a pretty good goalie, so I tried to make a move to my forehand, saw her bite, then went backhand.
“When Piper and I are out there [on the penalty kill] together, we always try to play offense. We know that if there’s a turnover, we’ve both got good speed, so we’re always looking for the breakaway pass.”
If the Elis had any intention of going away quietly, it didn’t show at the beginning of the third period. Freshman Kristin Savard banged home the rebound off of a Sharun shot to bring Yale back within one with 16:39 to play.
The visitors continued to play with intensity, creating a number of quality scoring chances. The Big Green defense stepped up to the challenge, though, blocking shots and tying up sticks to keep the puck away from Lane. Lane made the saves when she needed to, though, keeping the Elis off the board until Love headed to the bench with 1:09 to play.
Dartmouth took advantage of the empty net, as Weatherston added a goal with 55 seconds to play. That empty-netter would also prove to be the game-winner, as Kelsey Johnson put in an extra-attacker goal. Yale continued to push, but 14 seconds later, the Bulldogs’ season ended.
“It’s encouraging to the coaching staff,” Witt said of her team’s strong finish to the year. “It’s encouraging to the freshmen, sophomores and juniors. The seniors have a tough ride home.
“I’d be a little bit nervous if I were some coaches coming up against Yale in the next couple of years.”
The next team Dartmouth comes up against, however, will not be Yale. The Big Green will play the winner of Sunday’s St. Lawrence-Colgate game next Saturday in the ECAC semifinals at Union’s Messa Rink.