MINNEAPOLIS — Harvard is headed to the women’s national championship game for the first time since 2005.
After losing to Boston College 10-2 earlier in the season and then ending the Eagles’ undefeated season with a 3-2 win in the Beanpot final, Harvard junior goalie Emerance Mashmeyer feels like her Crimson proved something on the ice Friday night with a 2-1 win over cross-town rival BC.
Maschmeyer was on the losing end of an NCAA quarterfinal meeting with Boston College her freshman year and the sting of that and the 10-2 loss are the kind of motivation the goalie uses to show her team belongs playing on the national stage.
While talk all season was about two other Boston colleges, Harvard used the lopsided loss as a wake-up call. The defeat at the hands of BC was followed by a close win at Northeastern and coach Katey Stone said that instead of making her team question themselves, they used it as a learning tool.
And they didn’t let it deter their thinking that the Crimson was bound for the Frozen Four championship game.
“Those things happen and sometimes they’re the best thing to happen to a hockey team,” Stone said. “We really had to take stock after that. We turned around the next day and barely beat Northeastern. We hung on for dear life. So that weekend was a huge turning point for us. And sometimes you have to go through those things to expose your weaknesses. We worked a lot harder after that. You build your armor throughout the year and we started to build it better there.”
If the Crimson was amassing armor, Maschmeyer is the chest plate.
A solid presence in net, she has a six-game winning streak heading into Sunday’s championship game. She missed the start of the season playing with Team Canada in the Four Nations Cup and then was just 0-2-2 through her first four games. Since a win against Dartmouth in the first game following the weekend Stone mentioned, Macshmeyer has gone 17-2-1 and averaged just one goal against per game.
With 2-1 losses each of the past two seasons during the NCAA quarterfinals, first to Boston College and then to Wisconsin, Harvard had been looking to reverse the trend. But Maschmeyer said she doesn’t think about those previous losses, choosing instead to focus on her current situation.
“It’s different year to year – new teams, new games, everything,” said Maschmeyer. “It’s always different. For this year, it’s one game at a time. Obviously, we’re pumped to be playing in the final on Sunday. It’s a different year so anything can happen.”
That mentality of compartmentalizing extended to Maschmeyer’s play on Friday when Boston College had a five-minute power play after Miye D’oench received a game misconduct for a check from behind.
“A five-minute penalty, it’s a long penalty so I think our key thing was just taking it one play at a time and finishing each play,” Maschmeyer explained. “Me, my mindset was, ‘It’s one shot at a time’ and don’t think ahead. A lot can happen in five minutes, but just staying in that moment and playing each shot.”
Having taken care of rival Boston College, Maschmeyer will use those compartmentalizing skills one more time.
“We can celebrate tonight, be happy, enjoy the win,” she said. “Come midnight, we stop and we move on to the next game and get focused for that one.”
Harvard lost both the 2004 and 2005 national championship games to Minnesota. If the Crimson’s season was about building armor, Maschmeyer will need to be solid to help them slay the dragon on Sunday. Though they made a statement with their win Friday night, the journey isn’t over for the Crimson.
“I mean, of course [we feel like we proved something Friday],” Maschmeyer said. “Going in to the final, we still have more to prove, though.
“We want to win it all.”