ERIE, Pa. — When the president speaks, Mercyhurst listens. Before this weekend’s CHA Tournament, the president of Mercyhurst College, Dr. Michael McQuillen spoke to the Mercyhurst women’s hockey team and inspired the team to represent the small Erie college in a positive way.
The Lakers didn’t disappoint the President. Mercyhurst (28-6-2) won its fourth consecutive league title with a 4-1 victory over Niagara (16-15-3).
CHA tournament MVP Teresa Marchese scored two goals in succession to put Niagara back on its heels early. Marchese scored at 10:21 of the initial period when she picked up a loose puck on the boards, skated uncontested in the slot and finished past goaltender Nikki Rudy.
Marchese added one of three Laker power play goals five minutes later. On the transition up the ice, Marchese took a feed from Samantha Shirley, skated in across the slot and deposited the puck just under the crossbar to make the score 2-0.
The Lakers outshot the Purple Eagles 14-6 in the first period. Niagara coach Margot Page’s game plan to be stingy in allowing shots went awry.
“We hope to use the same game plan as yesterday,” Page said. “Look after our own zone and take advantage of any opportunities given to us. Mercyhurst is really deep and balanced and I think they can, at any point in time, jump on any loose pucks and bury them.”
Possibly the highlight of the night was when Mercyhurst goalie Desi Clark stoned Niagara leading scorer Ashley Riggs on a breakaway.
With just under three minutes to go in the second period, Ashley Riggs scored her first goal of the tournament on the power play when she hit a rocket past Desi Clark with help from Charde Hoyle-Levy and Jessica Clermont.
Niagara had narrowed the lead to 2-1, but Stephanie Jones answered for the Lakers just over a minute later when she was left alone in front of the goal and put an Ashley Pendleton rebound through the legs of Rudy during the power play.
Mercyhurst dominated the second period, outshooting Niagara 20-6.
Sophomore Julia Colizza made sure Niagara had no thoughts of coming back when she also scored on the power play. Colizza had a nice give-and-go with Samantha Shirley and Rudy didn’t have a chance to make the save.
Desi Clark was elated following the game and was quick to give out praises to her teammates.
Clark said, “This is awesome. I can’t tell you what I am feeling right now. My teammates executed. We did all the little things we had to do. It was huge and we are going to take this to NCAAs and get ready to go into next weekend.”
Sisti believed every game for Mercyhurst had been a must-win for a while, and the NCAAs will be no different in that respect.
“Our team has been playing under pressure since the first game of the season when we lost to Bemidji,” Sisti said. “After Christmas we couldn’t lose more than one game down the stretch. Every game seemed like a must win and I am very proud of the girls.”
Stefanie Bourbeau, Sara McDonald, Danielle Ayearst and Danielle Lansing were all selected to the all-tournament team for Mercyhurst. Riggs and Rudy made the team for Niagara.
Page liked the way her team battled and has high hopes for Niagara in the future.
Page said. “With a short bench, I thought they put everything on the ice today and that’s all we ever ask of them. I am really proud of them. It’s just a matter of time with us and I think we are the team of the future.”
Meanwhile, Mercyhurst’s future is now, and the Lakers will continue their season with an NCAA quarterfinal at Harvard next weekend.