Mercer scores pair, Tiley stops all 41 as Clarkson blanks Wisconsin for women's D-I national title


ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Clarkson won its second women’s national championship Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 win over Wisconsin.

The Golden Knights last won the title in 2014 and still remain the only team outside of the WCHA to have won the national crown.

Clarkson goalie Shea Tiley came one save shy of her career-high, stopping everything the Badgers brought at her. Wisconsin outshot Clarkson 41-20 for the game and 35-17 over the course of the final two periods. The Golden Knights had played just two games this season with 31 or more shots against and they were 0-1-1 in those two games.

“She’s been phenomenal the entire year,” said Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers. “Shea’s a big-game goalie. She kept us in it tonight when we needed her to. In a setting and atmosphere like this, a performance like that is just phenomenal.”

The Badgers had held the No. 1 ranking the entire season, but Clarkson captain Cayley Mercer said no one in their locker room viewed the Golden Knights as second rate.

“People thought we were underdogs (in 2014) and we came out with the win,” Mercer said. “At no point did we ever feel like underdogs. We knew how strong we were, we knew we had the potential in that locker room to win this tournament. At no point were we ever scared. We had nothing but confidence. It didn’t matter who we were going to play today and we were still going to bring the same intensity and the same work ethic and play our game no matter what.”

The struggle to score that had plagued the Badgers on and off all season reared its head at the Frozen Four. The Badgers, who’d been averaging more than four goals a game before this weekend, scored just once on a total of 77 shots on net.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “I’m proud of the way we played. It’s just that for whatever reason, the puck doesn’t go in some nights. For this afternoon’s game, it just didn’t go in for us. When you get to the finish line, we didn’t do enough things to win the hockey game.”

Clarkson scored just 27 ticks into the second period with a power-play goal from Savannah Harmon. On just their fourth shot of the game, an outside shot bounced off Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens. She lunged to try and recover the rebound, putting her out of position when the puck swung around the net. Harmon swatted it home, giving the Golden Knights the 1-0 lead.

The Badgers continued to put pressure in the offensive end, but Clarkson was able to withstand the onslaught.

“In the third period, it just basically came down to gutting it out – doing all the little things, winning all the little battles, blocking shots when we needed to, helping Shea out when we needed to and just basically keeping things simple,” Desrosiers said. “That was the big theme.”

The tournament Most Outstanding Player and Patty Kazmaier Award finalist, Mercer solidified the win for the Golden Knights by scoring with 3:04 to go in the game and then adding an empty netter 1:20 later to give Clarkson the 3-0 win and national championship.

It was an especially tough loss for the Badgers, who’d overcome one hurdle in advancing to the title game after losing in the semifinal round each of the past three seasons.

“Hockey just has a funny way of humbling you,” Wisconsin junior Annie Pankowski said. “When you think you’re doing well and you have all the things going the right way, it reminds you that not everything is perfect.”