PRINCETON, N.J. — It looked like it would be a dismal week for Harvard. Missing three of their top stars, the Crimson tied Providence on Wednesday and then lost a shocker to Yale on Friday. Next up was No. 8 Princeton at Hobey Baker Rink, where the Crimson had lost three of the last four regular season meetings. Just when things looked their bleakest, a total team effort was put forth and Harvard prevailed with a convincing shutout, 3-0.
“We didn’t want to dwell on last night’s loss but it’s hard for that not to be a factor,” said senior forward Nicole Corriero. “Yale’s a good team but there’s a lot of things we didn’t do that left a lot to be desired. A lot of it was about righting the wrongs and making up for a lot of the mistakes we made last night and just making sure that everybody came together today. It’s a lot about heart and character as well and just goes to show that’s the team that we have.”
Princeton, (3-2-1, 2-2 ECACHL) seemed flat the entire night, something that always seems to happen following a big win, such as Friday night’s victory over Brown.
“It’s always hard to come back after a big win, it’s easier to come back after a tough loss,” said Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal. “They came out hungry, we came out complacent. Last year we defeated Harvard at home and I thought we were pretty good and then we got our ass kicked by Brown the next day. The same thing here. We beat Brown, we think we’re pretty good, then we get our heads handed to us the next game.”
No. 3 Harvard (3-1-1, 3-1 ECACHL) excelled in all areas, but Corriero, the Thornhill, Ont. native, shined brightest. With Crimson scorers Julie Chu and Sarah Vaillancourt playing at the Four Nations Cup, and Katie Johnston just finishing her season with the Crimson soccer squad, the pressure was on Corriero, and she was more than up to the challenge.
Corriero figured in all three Harvard goals, with two assists and a pretty breakaway goal that sealed the deal at 13:46 of the third period. On that goal, a clearing dump out of Harvard’s zone seemed to pass right through two Princeton defenders to Corriero, who had a free path to the net.
“I just tried to make a cut in the neutral zone, and I didn’t realize there was no one behind me,” Corriero said. “Then Jessica McKenzie just made a great pass right on my stick, and I looked up and I realized that it was just me and the goalie. It was just a matter of going in there as hard as possible.”
Harvard exhibited a suffocating defense, keeping Princeton out of their offense all night. Even during the power play, the Crimson defenders smothered the Tigers. It was as if Princeton were playing a half-second behind, missing good opportunities and just being out of reach of making great plays.
Though Harvard junior goaltender Ali Boe only had to make 18 saves, many of them were of the circus variety, further frustrating the Tigers.
Harvard drew first blood at 8:18 in the first period, and it illustrated how quickly fortunes can change in hockey. Princeton junior forward Sarah Butsch found herself behind the Harvard defense and in front of an open net. Her shot went wide, though. Seconds later she was whistled for high-sticking, and as she cooled her heels in the box, Harvard took advantage, with senior forward Kat Sweet catching the corner of the net off a Corriero feed for a 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless second period filled with bruising defense, Harvard junior forward Jennifer Raimondi found the back of the net and Corriero earned her second assist. Princeton, facing a huge uphill battle, never regained footing.
Harvard next hosts No. 7 St. Lawrence on Friday. Princeton travels to Erie, Pa. to begin a two-game series at No. 10 Mercyhurst on Saturday.