BOSTON — Coming off of a narrow 2-1 defeat against No. 8 New Hampshire last weekend, Northeastern thought it could at least give No. 5 Harvard a game in the Beanpot semifinal, if not pull the upset like the Husky men did the day before. Instead, the Huskies suffered their worst loss of the season, and the Crimson completed the first step in its search of a seventh straight Beanpot title.
The third-line combination of Katie Johnston to Jennifer Raimondi led the Crimson (14-6-2) with three goals, and tri-captain Nicole Corriero added another pair and an assist in the 9-1 Crimson victory. The margin of victory and goals scored set new series records for Harvard against the Huskies (3-20-2). Northeasten goalie Marisa Hourihan, who was dominant in saving 57 of 59 against UNH, could not repeat that success this time around.
Coach Laura Schuler thought Harvard played a great game, but she also openly wondered what happened to the team she had coached all season.
“They were excited enough to play today, but at the same time it’s important to be mentally prepared,” Schuler said. “I’ve seen them play 100 percent better.”
The Johnston to Raimondi combination came out in full force and connected for Harvard’s first two goals, a one-timer at 9:46 and a successful two-on-one conversion at 8:19. They also connected for a shorthanded goal, Harvard’s fifth, at 8:36 of the second period when three Northeastern players got caught trying to dig the puck out in the corner. Freshman linemate Adrienne Bernakevitch also picked up an assist on the second goal. Prior to tonight, Raimondi had just four goals and Johnston four assists for the entire season.
“Johnston was awesome for me today,” Raimondi said. “I was just sitting there and she was hitting me with great passes. Bernakevitch was working hard in the corner to get the puck to Johnston. Today was just a whole-line effort all the way through.”
Hourihan’s one bright spot in defeat came when she stopped the nation’s leading goal scorer Nicole Corriero on a penalty shot that Harvard was awarded during a 5-on-3 in the first period. Corriero tried to go around the right side, but Hourihan threw her stick to knock the puck away.
“The goalie made a great play on that breakaway,” Corriero said. “I thought I had her beat, and she pulled out the poke check at the last second, so that was a great play on her part. I was obviously disappointed but more fired up to put it in on the power play.”
That she did. Corriero netted a power play goal within the next minute. And in the third period, Lindsay Weaver set her up for another breakaway, and this time Corriero finished without any difficulty.
Hourihan stopped just five of nine shots in the third period as Harvard scored three goals in a three-minute span. Hourihan was seriously ill with the flu, and she had worn down as the game went along. The Crimson had started playing more of its third and fourth lines, but they proved just as capable of scoring as the first and second lines.
“I didn’t even see a lot of the goals in the third period,” Schuler said. “I felt like I was just looking down to throw out the next line, and as soon as I looked down, there was a goal. It was just so quick, one after another”
Northeastern finally got a goal with exactly one minute left when Chrissy Sands slipped a puck through the five-hole of Harvard goalie Emily Vitt, who made six saves in relief of Ali Boe.
Prior to that goal, Northeastern’s best scoring chances came in the first two minutes, a stretch in which Harvard has struggled recently. The one glaring negative from the last four games has been giving up an early goal to Yale and to Dartmouth’s Gillian Apps in recent weeks, and the Crimson was fortunate not to surrender an early goal to Northeastern as well. In its last four games, Harvard has outscored opponents 40-3 in the last 58 minutes while being outscored 2-0 in the first two minutes.
“It’s youth,” said Harvard coach Katey Stone in searching for an explanation “We are becoming a seasoned team. You need to be ready from start to finish. There is no excuse for that kind of thing, letting Gillian Apps slip behind you think 30 seconds into the game. The good thing is we have been behind in so many games, it doesn’t demoralize us. We keep coming. I like that resilience.”
For Harvard, the night was a success for more than just the final score. The players avoided the big-game hangover Stone had warned them about after last Saturday’s 6-3 win over No. 2 Dartmouth, and they felt the performance was consistent with the team’s long-term goals.
“You can win 9-1 and go through the motions, or you can win 9-1 and really work on some things, and I think we did that today,” Stone said.