PRINCETON, N.J. — As the final seconds ticked down in the overtime period, there had to be a sinking feeling within the players, coaches and partisans of No. 9 Princeton. Yet another tie? Yet another step backward, following an unprecedented three-point weekend against Harvard and Brown by playing down to the eighth-place team in the ECAC? But then, with 17 seconds left, sophomore defender Kate Hession fired an exquisite pass that just caught sophomore forward Kim Pearce’s stick and somehow eluded Clarkson’s sophomore goaltender, Kira McDonald. Then there was bedlam at Baker Rink, as Princeton came away with a 2-1 victory.
“She took a nice, slow, hard shot and Dina McCumber had made a nice pass over to her,” Pearce said of Hession’s assist. “I was just lucky.”
After the game-winning goal, McDonald was consoling one of her teammates, a classy thing to do considering McDonald could have been the one needing consolation. She made 46 saves in defeat, many of them seemingly defying physics and frustrating the Tigers. But in the end, she could not contain the offensive force of Pearce, who took 12 shots on the night.
“She was big,” Pearce said of the six-foot Golden Knight goalie. “But she played really well.”
McDonald’s heroics kept Clarkson (9-11-6, 4-8-1 ECACHL) close in a game statistically dominated by Princeton (12-5-4, 6-4-2 ECACHL). The Tigers outshot the Knights 48-13 and beat them 46-28 on faceoffs. They held Clarkson without a shot on three power plays and the duration of the overtime period. But for 64:42, the score was knotted. Time after time the Tigers would mount a flurry of shots on McDonald, who stood like a green-and-gold mountain in the net.
After a scoreless first period, Clarkson drew first blood at 6:57 of the second on a rare Princeton defensive lapse. Freshman forward Brooke Beazer made a steal at center ice, and suddenly the Knights were on a two-on-one. Beazer made a perfect pass to sophomore center Jill Nolan, who fired the puck past the helpless Roxanne Gaudiel in goal. Clarkson coach Rick Seeley was pleased with the result.
“All three forwards had a part of it, they all had their heads up, they all made good plays,” Seely said.
Princeton could not solve McDonald until 7:41 of the third period. Pearce fired a shot that bounced off McDonald’s pads and sophomore forward Liz Keady wrapped in the rebound to tie the score.
“I think [Princeton's] experience showed,” Seeley said. “They cycle real well in the offensive zone, they never stop moving. A lot of times our young D are caught like deer in the headlights watching them. You knew eventually something was going to happen.”
The Tigers, with new life, kept up a steady barrage of shots through the third, but McDonald again and again made the stops. With 47 seconds left, Clarkson sophomore Lindsay Williams was whistled for tripping, which gave Princeton a golden opportunity to end it, but the Knights killed off those 47 seconds and then the remainder of the power play during overtime.
“I thought we played a pretty tight game with them. Just a couple of young mistakesagain. We’ll get over those, we’ll learn from them,” Seeley said.
Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal was unavailable for comment.
Princeton hosts No. 5 St. Lawrence on Saturday, while Clarkson visits Yale. Both games are at 4 p.m.