Daniels netted her sixth game winner of the year on Friday versus Yale. (Elan Kawesch)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a departure from last season's ECAC Quarterfinal matchup, the No. 4/4 Harvard women's hockey team and Yale did not enter overtime, but the Crimson (22-5-3, 16-4-2 ECAC) and Bulldogs (15-14-1, 12-10-0 ECAC) did play a tight contest, as Harvard fended off Yale, 2-1.
The Crimson outshot the Bulldogs, 41-23, on the afternoon, and even though Yale's Jaimie Leonoff was sturdy in goal – collecting 39 saves – both Miye D'Oench and Sydney Daniels were each able to solve her to propel Harvard to victory. Both upped their season totals to 17 goals apiece, while Daniels secured her team-best sixth game winning goal in 2014-15. On the other side of the ice, Emerance Maschmeyer turned away 22 shots, including 11 in the final frame alone, to pick up her 13th win on the season.
In what has become a thrilling rivalry between the boards, Harvard and Yale produced little offense in the early going, each skating to the locker rooms without a goal in the first period. The Crimson fired on 12 shots, but Leonoff stopped all of them, while Maschmeyer was equal to the task at the other end, stopping all six shots she faced.
But Yale broke the silence just 3:43 into the second period. After some passing back and forth, the Bulldogs' Jamie Haddad, Mallory Souliotos and Taylor Marchin set things up. Haddad feathered a pass from down low to Souliotos, who then found Marchin at the point. Marchin sent a screamer on target, where Haddad was there to tip it past Maschmeyer for the first score of the game.
It was exactly seven minutes later that D'Oench evened things up all by herself. Collecting a mishandle in the neutral zone, D'Oench took two defenders with her up the ice before wrapping around Leonoff's net. D'Oench then scooped the puck off an out-of-position Leonoff, knocking it in off her pads to even the ledger at 1-1.
Five minutes later, after a slew of penalties, Kalley Armstrong and Sydney Daniels made it 2-1. After Armstrong won her faceoff in the offensive zone and kicked it back out to Daniels, the sophomore ripped a shot from just south of the blue line that found the back of the net in a blink of an eye to give Harvard its first lead of the game.
From there, Yale attempted a comeback and was close a fair amount. Harvard nearly lit the lamp again down the stretch. Though Leonoff was able to corral the puck as well, preventing further damage, the Crimson had all it needed to move to Saturday's showdown with a 1-0 series lead.
Harvard can earn yet another trip to the ECAC Semifinals with a win over Yale Saturday. Puck drop, which will be streamed live on the Ivy League Digital Network, is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Bright-Landry Hockey Center.