A loss is always harder when you know that the effort is there, but the results aren’t.
Last year the Harvard women’s hockey team missed the postseason for just the second time in the nine-year history of the NCAA tournament. On Friday (March 12) the Crimson made their return, but it lasted just 60 minutes. With their season dangling in the balance, Harvard fought hard every minute.
Giving up six goals through two periods, however, the fourth-seeded Crimson watched their season come to a disappointing end at the hands of the fifth-seeded Cornell Big Red, 6-2.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the end result of tonight’s game, but certainly not disappointed with the effort of our players,” said Harvard head coach Katey Stone. “We got ourselves in a little bit of a hole and tried to dig ourselves out, and I think it was one of the hardest-fought, from start to finish, games that we played all season.”
From the start, Cornell was on a mission. The Big Red jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes. By the middle of the second period, Harvard found themselves down 5-0, and the reality began to set in that this was the end of the road. Even so, the Crimson didn’t ease up.
“Unfortunately, like coach said, we kind of dug ourselves into a hole, and I think our attitude throughout the game was to keep playing,” said Crimson co-captain Kathryn Farni ’10.
Harvard’s first goal came in the 14th minute of the second period from senior forward Randi Griffin, assisted by Farni and Kate Buesser ’11. Unfortunately, the goal was quickly countered by Cornell two minutes later, putting the Big Red up 6-1.
Leanna Coskren ’11 tacked on Harvard’s second and final goal in the third period, but that was too little, too late. It was just the Big Red’s big day. After their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, Cornell now finds themselves in the Frozen Four, and one win away from the National Championship game.
“They [Cornell] spent a lot of time recruiting, and they’re getting better. They have big strong kids, and they make plays, and we’ve had three very spirited matchups with them,” said Stone. “It was Dartmouth and Harvard for many, many years, and now it seems as though it may be Cornell and Harvard for a little while. They’ve done a good job of building their program, and they’re going to have a lot of success.…”
Given the challenges the Crimson encountered this season, including losing senior goaltender Christina Kessler ’10, the NCAA all-time save percentage leader, to a season-ending knee injury, the season ends with more sweet memories than sour ones. This includes Harvard’s Beanpot Championship, Stone becoming the all-time wins leader in women’s college hockey, and the Crimson receiving their eight NCAA berth.
Looking back, Farni noted that “… definitely there were points in the season where we struggled with the adversity we had, but we tried our best to regroup and make sure that we were focused on what happened on the ice and what was under our control.”
And because of this, Harvard finished the regular season with a 20-8-6 record, ranked No. 4 in the country, which is something to be proud of.
“Today’s game is somewhat similar to the entire season. We could have faded away, a lot of different things happened, but it’s a testament to the leadership of the seniors and all the kids stepping up and following them to get the job done,” said Stone. “Yes, we had a young team, but we didn’t play young. … And we were banged up at times, but we didn’t play banged up. And we were in holes before, but we didn’t play like we were in a hole. So again, tonight, the way our kids responded, regardless of what the score was, is exactly what we try to build this program on.”
Harvard graduates six seniors, but will return five of their six starters.