ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Kolbee McCrea’s hat trick led No. 1 Rochester Institute of Technology over Concordia (Minn.) 5-2 in an NCAA Women’s Division III quarterfinal at Ritter Arena.
The teams were tied 2-2 at the end of the second period before RIT broke things open with three goals in the final period.
“We talked in the locker room (between the second and third periods) about how it came down to this,” said RIT coach Scott McDonald. “Win the third period and you go to the Frozen Four. Lose and you start over in September.”
Both teams scored on their first shot on goal. RIT’s came just 1:27 into the contest when Marissa Maugeri floated a shot from the blue line that eluded Cobbers goaltender Rebecca Hendrickson.
Concordia’s first shot didn’t come until the 12:21 mark when Breann Julius broke down the right side put a short-side shot past Tiger goaltender Laura Chamberlain.
“I was just trying to get something on net and it worked,” said Julius, who also had an assist in the game.
That assist came just 1:18 later on the power play when she found Kelsey Vandegrift in the slot, who beat Chamberlain five-hole to make it 2-1 Concordia.
Allowing two goals on only two shots obviously concerned McDonald, who considered pulling Chamberlain.
“I’m glad we have a good goalie coach,” said McDonald. “[Jared Demichiel] got me settled down and said to give [Chamberlain] another period. We knew we had a good enough team to come back from a one-goal deficit.”
McCrea wasted little time in tying the score in the second period, getting the first of her three goals at 2:01. She fought to keep the puck in at the Concordia blue line and then worked a give-and-go with Tenecia Hiller to tie the game.
“That one got us started,” said McCrea. “We just kept trying to get pucks on net and it finally worked.”
McCrea’s second goal of the game came at 4:31 of the third period and put RIT ahead for good. She took a behind-the-net feed from Courtney Kunichika and roofed a backhand past Hendrickson.
The Tigers would put the game away with goals from Hiller and another from McCrea.
The Tigers outshot the Cobbers 25-13.
“There’s a reason why they’re No. 1,” said Concordia coach Brett Bruininks. “We expected them to play hard and be disciplined. I think we made adjustments and they made adjustments as the game went on. We just ran out of gas.”
“I think we got what we expected from them,” added Hiller. “We hadn’t seen them before, but we knew they were a good, physical team.”
Besides the hat trick, McCrea got an impromptu haircut when a skate sliced off about five inches of her ponytail during a scramble in front of the Concordia net.
“It looked like a dead squirrel on the ice,” joked McDonald. “I guess it saves her mom the cost of a haircut.”
The top-ranked Tigers are the favorite to again host the Division III championship next weekend. RIT lost on home ice to Norwich in the title game last season.
“We remember that feeling and it’s motivated us all season,” said Hiller.
“We’re right where we want to be,” said McDonald. “I’ll put this team up against anyone.”