This is the Beanpot the women always wanted. Each of the four teams in the 35th annual tournament was a threat to win; three are ranked in the nation’s top five and defending champion and host Northeastern is knocking on the door of the top 10.
Moreover, each team has several breakout stars and a lot of depth. But all that competitive balance means one good team goes home heartbroken from each first-round game.
Tuesday night second-ranked Boston College (21-4-2) dumped fifth-ranked Harvard (17-3-2), 2-1, and Northeastern (15-10-2) knocked off No. 3 Boston University (18-4-3), 4-1. That leaves the women with the same title matchup as the men: BC vs. NU.
BC had to struggle through every minute of the 60 to get past Harvard, while NU just had to hold on after taking an early two-goal lead.
It took most of the game for the Eagles to find a way to confuse Harvard’s tenacious D. Lexi Bender finally made the winning move, taking the puck on a skate around the outside of the left circle, then throwing it in front for Taylor Wasylk to pick out of a tangle and rap past Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer for a 2-1 lead at 16:22 of the third period.
Crimson coach Katey Stone did not hide her disappointment.
“Some massive D-zone breakdowns in the third period killed us,’’ she said. “Killed our momentum. Otherwise it was a pretty good game; we did a lot of things really well but when we needed to, we didn’t take care of our own end.’’
The game was scoreless when the final period began.
“We score a lot in the third period,’’ said BC coach Katie King Crowley. “I was sure to mention that to the kids. I said we had 20 minutes left to get a chance to win the trophy. I told them we’ve won 20-minute games before.’’
The Crimson outshot BC, 41-36, but BC netminder Corinne Boyles (40 saves) was tough to solve. Harvard’s top scorer Jillian Dempsey (23-17—40) had nine shots on net, including a breakaway, but couldn’t find the range.
Harvard’s Mary Parker broke the tension at 4:52 of the third period, cleaning up a play started by Gina McDonald’s shot on goal, by lifting a backhander over the fallen Boyles.
Less than three minutes later BC’s Dana Trivigno slammed a one-timer past Maschmeyer (34 saves) off Emily Field’s deft cross-ice pass.
BC, looking for its fifth title in eight years outshot Harvard, 12-7, in the first period.
Harvard spent a lot of time trying to set up its top scorer, the skittering waterbug Dempsey, a Winthrop native. The 5-foot-4-inch senior took three shots in the first period, the last one pegged off Boyles’s blocker.
Dempsey was back on the doorstep in the first minutes of the second, hammering at the puck as Boyles held firm in her butterfly. Boyles did all the dirty work for BC in the second period, as Harvard outshot BC, 17-13.
The second game had a different tenor, as NU’s top line began the first period with a pair of quick goals. Kendall Coyne, sprung on a breakaway when Casey Pickett hit her with a pass as she stepped out of the penalty box, fired a fast, low shot between the pads of BU goalie Kerrin Sperry at 5:46. Pickett then nailed a power-play goal at 7:44.
“We finally came out and set the tempo in a game,’’ said NU coach Dave Flint.
“That line [Coyne, Pickett, and Rachel Llanes] is one of the best in college hockey; they’re so fast and so dynamic. If you turn the puck over in bad areas against them, you’re going to pay for it, and that’s what we did tonight.’’
Coyne made it 3-0 at 5:18 of the second, knocking a shot off the leg of BU defender Caroline Campbell.
BU picked up some energy after killing off 1:22 of a 5-on-3 penalty, but with NU goalie Chloe Desjardins (38 saves) scrambling, diving, even flailing at the puck, BU was stymied.
Jordan Juron put one home to close to 3-1 midway through the third, but Coyne’s empty-netter at 18:08 finished off a hat trick, and finished off BU.