Maschmeyer and the Crimson stuck with the Badgers for all 60 minutes. (Photo: David Stluka)
MADISON, Wis. – Harvard and Wisconsin went toe-to-toe with each other in the NCAA Women's Hockey Quarterfinals, but it was the fourth-seeded Badgers who came away with the nail-biting 2-1 victory on Saturday night in LaBahn Arean.
Wisconsin badgered Harvard goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer with 44 shots on target, 35 of which came in the first 40 minutes. Maschmeyer, though, came up with 42 saves, marking the eighth time all season she turned aside 40 or more shots in a game.
As the case was to be expected, special teams played an important role in the evening. The Crimson's penalty kill, which had been tops in the nation for nearly the whole season, fended off a Wisconsin power play that came in ranked in the top-four in the land. Harvard ended all three of the Badger's advantages to keep the game tight.
Dylanne Crugnale tallied a late third-period goal for the Crimson, giving Harvard a much needed boost towards the finish line, but Wisconsin was able to keep any more pucks from finding the back of the net to skate away with the Quarterfinal win and the right to play No. 1 Minnesota in the Frozen Four.
After the first puck dropped, Wisconsin came out firing on all cylinders, as the Badgers kept the Crimson on its heels, but Harvard was able to match UW's intensity as the period wore on. Playing in their final games wearing the Crimson, both Gina McDonald and Elizabeth Parker tested Alex Rigsby in goal with well-timed efforts in front of the net to set the pace in the first.
It was the home squad that got the initial advantage, however. Even though UW reeled off 18 shots in the opening frame, only one crossed the goal line thanks to tremendous play by Maschmeyer and the defense in front of her. But with just 3:04 left in the frame, Blayre Turnbull and Brittany Ammerman took advantage of a 2-on-1, as Ammerman found Turnbull on the left side of the cage for the put-in and the lead.
Both teams upped the intensity in the second, each getting their chances early. Wisconsin kept testing Maschmeyer and the Crimson defense, but Hillary Crowe, Sydney Daniels and the Harvard offense attacked as well. Crowe alone fired away with three shots on target, with Daniels adding a pair of tries, but Rigsby was up for the challenge and turned nine Crimson shots away.
On the other end, Wisconsin tallied yet another late goal in the period as Katy Josephs found a way to splice the puck underneath Maschmeyer's pads for the score to go up 2-0. Kelly Jaminski and Turnbull were on the assists to give the Badgers a precarious two-goal lead into the third period.
Though it was down a pair of scores, Harvard was anything but deflated at the start of the final stanza. The Crimson tested Rigsby in nearly every shift in the early going, including a couple of great opportunities from Crowe and Miye D'Oench. Maschmeyer staved off any attempt for Wisconsin to add a third goal, but Rigsby was equal to the task. The senior Badger made a highlight reel save, robbing D'Oench of a one-timer, following a terrific centering pass, with a stick save from her stomach.
But Crugnale's score to End Harvard's silence came soon after. D'Oench found her classmate down low, after which Crugnale took the puck to the side of the net and sent a turnaround shot that took a good bounce off Rigsby's skate to give the Crimson life with just three minutes left to play.
Though Harvard kept fighting, Wisconsin was able to fend off the Harvard attack until the horn sounded. UW escaped from LaBahn Arena with the 2-1 thriller to advance. With the defeat, Harvard's determined season comes to a close with its 10th all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament.