ERIE, Pa. — Mercyhurst has a lot of tests to pass this week with final exams upcoming Monday through Wednesday, but the Lakers’ first test was Saturday’s nonconference match against Cornell. That they passed with flying colors–a 5-0 victory with a 52-15 shot advantage.
506 people showed up at the Mercyhurst Ice Center to witness the avalanche of shots the Lakers (21-6-2) threw at Cornell (3-19-3).
Lakers coach Mike Sisti knew it would be a challenge to play focused with exams upcoming, and Mercyhurst met that challenge. He was particularly pleased with those who stepped up in the absence of Sara McDonald, who missed her first game to date, and Jackie Jarrell.
“We played a hard 60 minute game against a very well coached, passionate team and got big goals when we needed them,” Sisti said.
Just 5:46 into the game, sophomore Sarah Kurth scored her first goal of the year when she was left all alone in front of the net and backhanded home a rebound.
Stefanie Bourbeau’s power play goal made the score 2-0 going into the intermission. Mercyhurst goaltender and Patty Kazmaier finalist Desi Clark only needed to make two saves in the period.
Mercyhurst’s rough, but fair, style of play was a concern for Cornell coach Melanie Davidson as the game progressed. After the slow start, Davidson believes Cornell adjusted and played better.
Davidson said, “You never see a game that physical in our league [the ECACHL] and it took us until the third period just to handle the physicality of the game. It wasn’t a dirty game but it took us a long time to get used to it.”
Samantha Shirley scored Mercyhurst’s second power play goal when she buried a rebound from Michelle Bonello after a scrum in front of Cornell netminder Beth Baronick. Shirley, the game’s first star with two goals for the game, felt the Lakers executed their game plan to perfection.
“We came out very strong today and played with a lot of pride,” Shirley said. “We basically played and executed our game. We want to get the pucks in deep, make sure our forwards forecheck hard and play good defense.”
The rink’s train horn blew long and hard on Shirley’s second goal when she grabbed the puck at the blue line, skated in down the right side and slid it past Baronick.
Senior Teresa Marchese finished the scoring later in the period when she buried a slap shot from the slot. Marchese ended up with four points in the game.
“Teresa always comes out to play hard and she always sets up great plays,” Shirley said. “We expect her to do that and that’s her role on the team, and we hope she continues to do that the rest of the year.”
Tomorrow’s rematch will be Lakers’ second test during this finals week, and Cornell promises it will be tougher.
“I expect us to be quicker and far more physical and able to withstand that [physical play] more than we were today,” Davidson said.
“We can’t dwell on the loss and we have to focus on the positive aspects of today’s game,” said Cornell captain Maryann Nowak. “It was a 5-0 game but we did a lot of things well. We have to focus on those positives.”
The Lakers cannot afford another loss if they expect to earn an NCAA at-large selection. Knowing a let down could prove to be fatal, Shirley promises to keep the Lakers focused again tomorrow.
Shirley said, “When we get to the rink tomorrow we will go over the things we that we need to improve on. We played well but not excellent. So for tomorrow we know they will play their best goalie and we will have to come out strong like we did today.”
The final exam of the weekend takes place tomorrow at 1 p.m.