HAMDEN, Conn. — There is something special about a regular season game that can make a senior cry. This afternoon, Quinnipiac defeated No. 4 Cornell for the first time since 2006 with a 4-1 victory.
“I instantly starting crying,” senior goaltender Victoria Vigilanti said. “As a senior, this win means so much — just seeing your team jump in front of those pucks in the last minute and doing anything they can for you just means so much. If we keep playing like that, people better watch out.”
Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley admitted after the game that the girls found some new confidence during practice that had to have something to do with the upset.
“Earlier in the week, the girls said they can win out and tonight I thought we played really well from start to finish.”
The Bobcats jumped on the board first with 4:26 left in the opening period. Regan Boulton blasted a shot from the left point that deflected between Lauren Slebodnick’s legs. The puck stopped on the goal line, where Erica Uden Johansson poked the puck home.
“You have to give QU credit; they came out and forced turnovers,” Cornell coach Doug Derraugh said. “We played erratic and gave them some great opportunities.
Quinnipiac took the 2-0 lead 6:20 into the second period on Brittany Lyon’s 15th goal of the season. Amanda Colin rushed into the Cornell end on the near side. As she came behind the net, she made a diving pass into the slot for Lyons. Lyons one-timed the puck past Slebodnick for the two-goal lead.
That was all the Bobcats needed, as Vigilanti put forth her best effort of the season making 32 saves.
“She was unbelievable,” Seeley said. “She nullified a lot of dangerous plays just by standing up and making it look easy. She made some huge saves early when it was a one-goal game. It’s what we came to expect, and if she is getting in that form now it is perfect timing.”
Down 2-0, Cornell pulled Slebodnick with more than three minutes left in the third period. After a Lyons tripping penalty with 2:12 left in regulation, the Big Red went on a six-on-four advantage.
In total, the Bobcats blocked 20 shots on the afternoon, with a large chunk coming in the final three minutes.
“There were plays today where I was down and out and players like Nicole Kosta, Amanda Colin, and Shelby Wignall were diving in front of pucks,” Vigilanti said. “That just shows how much everyone is here for each other.”
The blocked shots turned into a pair of empty-net goals for Kelly Babstock to first put QU up 3-0. After a goal from Brianne Jenner with 56 seconds left got the Big Red back within two goals, Babstock added another empty-netter with five seconds to play.
“It’s what we want to be all about, and you don’t necessarily play that way all the time, but they saved their best for the right time,” Seeley said about Quinnipiac’s gritty play.
“This was not only a big win for Quinnipiac’s history, but it was a big win for our confidence this year,” Vigilanti added. “To go into the playoffs and know that we can beat teams like Clarkson, Harvard, and Cornell and it was perfect timing to get this win.”