If you've ever watched the Dartmouth women's ice hockey team play, you know they have the makings of an incredible hockey club. The Big Green skate quickly, pass smoothly, shoot accurately and play solid defense.
With qualities such as those, it sounds as if the team would be unstoppable, and with the season halfway through, Dartmouth stands with a 7-3-0 ECAC record.
A 7-3-0 record is nothing to be ashamed of, but one wonders how Dartmouth has even lost a game.
In the case of the Big Green's 1-0 loss to Brown on November 13, Dartmouth could not score on a stingy Bears goaltender. The Bears currently stand at 7-1-3 in the ECAC. Great teams going against each other make for close matches.
However, Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Princeton Tigers was different. Princeton is not as talented as the Big Green. By defeating Dartmouth, Princeton improved to 5-5-2 in the ECAC. What went wrong?
"I think we played the first period of today's game the way we played the entire game [against Yale, whom Dartmouth beat 9-1 last Saturday] -- not to our full potential," said junior co-captain Kristina Guarino after the game on Sunday. "That hurts against a strong team like Princeton.
"We tried to battle back from a three goal deficit and we came close, but unfortunately not close enough," she continued. "We played two solid periods of hockey, but essentially we lost the game in the first period."
For some, it might be hard to imagine how a team could not play to its full potential and still win 9-1. But the Yale Bulldogs currently have a 1-11-0 record in the ECAC. The Princeton Tigers however, are a different story.
In Saturday's game against Yale and the first period of the Princeton game, Dartmouth was playing too eagerly. The Big Green knew that Yale wasn't in the same league as them, and as a result everyone tried to do too much on their own. Although, it didn't hurt them on the scoreboard Saturday, it would catch up with Dartmouth on Sunday.
At 5-5-2, Princeton can't be described as a dominant team; but a team that is good enough to capitalize on mistakes. Thus, when the Big Green took the ice at Baker Arena on Sunday, the Tigers could see right away that the Big Green weren't in top form.
Annamarie Holmes' goal 1:15 into the first period snapped Dartmouth out of it temporarily. Any momentum that was building for the Big Green was undermined by penalties at 3:42, 10:47, and 11:31. As a credit to the team, all three penalties were killed successfully.
However, Dartmouth still had trouble controlling the puck in the Princeton zone and the Tigers were adept at breaking out. Dani Holtschlag would score on a shot from just outside the crease at 15:28 and Laura Hays would net another one for Princeton 24 seconds later on a slap shot from the right circle.
The Big Green went to the locker room carrying a three-goal deficit on their backs. The most frustrating part was that they knew they were not playing their best. Although three Dartmouth goals would give the team new life in the second period, it would prove to be too late.
Having to come back from a three goal deficit is a difficult task against any team. On Sunday, Dartmouth was trying to just that against a team right below them in the ECAC standings. Unfortunately, Princeton got the better of Dartmouth that day. The Big Green are still a great team; but sometimes greatness takes some time off.