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women's college hockey notebook

Southborough’s Emerson O’Leary is right in the middle of things for Princeton women’s hockey

A dedication to offseason training helped Emerson O'Leary step up her game.Shelley Szwast/Princeton Athletics/Shelley M. Szwast

Emerson O’Leary has found herself the center of one of the most dynamic lines in women’s college hockey.

O’Leary, a Southborough native and 2022 Globe All-Scholastic for Noble and Greenough, is centering Princeton’s top line, between Sarah Fillier, a 2022 Olympic gold medalist, and Issy Wunder, one of ECAC Hockey’s best rookies last season. The trio have accounted for 33 of Princeton’s 71 goals this season.

“They’re two very good players,” said O’Leary. “Very smart and skilled. We all just know where each other are on the ice and we’re able to make great passes and find each other.”

After playing wing as a freshman last year and amassing only 11 points, O’Leary put in the offseason work to contend for a spot alongside Fillier, a two-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist. In addition to skating four times a week during the summer, she returned to Rockland’s Athlete Conditioning Training to work with trainer Shane Relihan on her speed.

“I ran sprints and did agility things,” said O’Leary. “My game has improved a lot this year. I’m a lot faster, and I think practicing quick starts and doing speed workouts on the turf has transformed that part of my game.”

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Her competitive side may have shown during those sessions, pushing her to make even more progress.

“I work out at a place with all boys, but my trainer doesn’t treat me any differently,” said O’Leary. “We do the same workouts. I think that my competitive level has really taken me to where I am today.”

Keeping a high compete level certainly helps on the ice. The Tigers are one of seven ECAC teams ranked in the national top 15. Princeton is currently 12th with a 12-7-5 record. The Tigers have beaten nationally ranked teams Cornell and Yale and have not lost in nonconference play.

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“We play in arguably the hardest league,” said O’Leary. “I think we go into each weekend knowing that no game will be easy. We all have a common understanding that everyone needs to put in their absolute best.”

Princeton has only five games remaining in the regular season, including one this weekend against No. 9 Quinnipiac. All 12 ECAC teams make the league tournament, and even teams at the bottom of the standings, like Brown and Harvard, are playing their best hockey of the season. If the season ended today, the Tigers would play Dartmouth, a team they skated to a 1-1 tie with Jan. 12.

The remainder of the season is going to take a dedication similar to O’Leary’s offseason work. She is ready for the challenge.

“I just want to keep making the people around me better,” said O’Leary. “Whether that is battling hard, winning my battles in the corners, or making good passes, I just think my overall game works best when I am just doing whatever it takes.”

Timely tallies

Emily Crovo picked a perfect time for her first two collegiate goals.

In Holy Cross’s Saturday game against Boston University, the freshman from Melrose broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period with her first-ever goal for the Crusaders. At the midpoint of the third, after BU had tied the game again, fellow rookie and former East Coast Wizards teammate Lulu Rourke fed Crovo a pass that she sent into the net for the game-winner.

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“My first goal was like a dream come true,” said Crovo. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a kid, and then scoring the second was unreal, especially against a good team like BU.”

Crovo’s tallies helped Holy Cross take the season series with BU and earned her Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Week honors.

Shootout success

Boston College’s Kara Goulding isn’t known as a goal scorer, but on Friday, she was. After the Eagles played to a 1-1 tie with Providence, the teams headed to a shootout, BC’s fourth in five games. Goulding, a Belmont native who played for Dexter Southfield, had not previously been used in the shootout. But the sophomore was on Friday and scored, giving the Eagles a 1-0 shootout victory … Assumption’s Jenna Chaplain was named New England Women’s Hockey Alliance’s Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. The Peabody native and St. Mary’s product tallied a goal and four assists with a plus-5 rating in a weekend series against St. Michael’s. Chaplain is the first-year team’s leading scorer, and the top rookie scorer in the NEWHA with 19 points ... After their hard-fought Beanpot semifinal, BU and BC meet this weekend for a home-and-home series. Both teams had frustrating weekends post-Beanpot, with BU dropping two to Holy Cross and BC dropping a game to Providence. The Eagles and Terriers need wins this weekend to better their Hockey East tournament positioning.


Kat Cornetta can be reached at sportsgirlkat@gmail.com.