At 127:09, Saturday evening’s (March 10) wild marathon featuring the women icers of Harvard vs. Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament appeared to be the result of some sort of daylight-savings glitch. Boasting four overtimes, the game lasted so long (four and a half hours including breaks) that the Kohl Center’s stat-tracking software couldn’t accommodate the seven periods of play. But in fact, the lengthy battle — pitting the nation’s top offensive and defensive squads (the Crimson and the Badgers, respectively) — was a product of some seriously inspired, entirely human efforts from the game’s two goaltenders.
Together, Brittany Martin ’09 of Harvard and Wisconsin’s Jessie Vetter, both between the pipes for the full duration, amassed 98 total saves. Martin in particular weathered five man-up opportunities en route to tallying 67 stops to tie a Harvard record set during the 1982 season.
In the end, though, it was the Badgers who finally hit pay dirt at the 7:09 mark of the final extra session when Jinelle Zaugg one-timed a shot over Martin’s shoulder for the lone-goal win. The victory sends Wisconsin (34-1-4) to the Frozen Four in Lake Placid, N.Y. (where they’ll battle St. Lawrence March 16). Harvard’s season, meanwhile, comes to a close as the team finishes 23-8-2.
In the overtime heartbreaker, the hosts appeared poised to take the lead in regulation as the Badgers fired off 22 shots over the first two periods of play — more than tripling the Crimson’s output. Harvard battled back in the final stanza of regulation with a forceful effort in the first six minutes of play. Yet Vetter turned aside seven Harvard tries in the third period to preserve the stalemate, while Martin continued her stellar play with a dozen stops, including a glove snag with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. The two continued to steal the show in overtime, as Vetter thwarted 17 shots on goal, and Martin denied the Badgers 31 times.
The loss ends Harvard’s streak of 39 consecutive games with at least one goal, while marking a tough finale for seniors Julie Chu, Katie Johnston, Jennifer Sifers, Liza Solley, and Lindsay Weaver. An All-America forward, Chu will leave the Crimson third on the program’s all-time scoring chart with 88 goals and 196 helpers.