No. 1 W. hockey regroups
"It's the small things that count" is an often quoted statement about life that proved to be very true for the Dartmouth women's hockey team this past weekend. On Friday night the team got spanked by 8th-ranked Northeastern 4-0 in what was the team's first loss of the regular season after jumping out to an unprecedented 10-0-1 start.
"I think we were a little overconfident and cocky. We didn't have that spark, what the coaches call a sense of urgency, needed to win," Lauren Trottier '01 said.
Oddly enough, the Big Green actually outplayed Northeastern on paper. Dartmouth outshot Northeastern by a margin of nearly two to one. Northeastern goalie Erika Silva made 40 saves on the day while Meaghan Cahill '01 stopped 20 of 24 shots on goal.
So, although many members of the team indicated that they just played horribly, the statistics show that something more was going on. It is possible that Silva stole the game for the Huskies, but Trottier accounts the loss to small errors in judgement made by the Dartmouth squad.
"She made some great saves," said Trottier. "But a lot of our shots were just going into her belly. We had our opportunities. We weren't using our systems well. We weren't doing the little things like sharp passes and keeping our feet moving. There was a lot of trying to do things individually. We didn't use each other well."
The breakdown was also a likely result of the mental taxation of being the best team in the country. Night in and night out Dartmouth is expected to win. Playing at such a high level all the time is impossible.
Before the start of the winter term, Dartmouth played in a tournament against the Russian, German and American national teams. The USA national team actually handed Dartmouth its first loss of the season, but the loss did not count in the official record since Team USA will not be competing in the collegiate playoffs in the northeast.
Nonetheless, the games were played at a very high level, probably higher than Dartmouth will ever face again, and accordingly took a lot out of the women. Then, starting up classes again after a limited break and after playing the toughest team in the world, it is no wonder the team was a little run-down.
Coach Judy Oberting told her players that she noticed the team wasn't up to par all week in practice. In some sense it seems the team could see defeat coming.
In addition, Northeastern has traditionally had Dartmouth's number. Last year Dartmouth lost to Northeastern twice and won by a score of 3-2 in a close victory. So, does Northeastern have what it takes to stop the seemingly invincible Big Green squad from going all the way this year? This is unlikely.
Before the holidays, Dartmouth played second-ranked Minnesota twice and beat them 5-1 and 4-0. These margins of victory reveal how far Dartmouth is above the competition.
"If we play like we did against Minnesota, I don't think anyone can beat us," said Trottier. "This weekend was a kick in the pants but I'm optimistic for the rest of the season. We trust our systems and we trust each other."
This trust will be tested again this weekend as the Big Green take on Maine and UNH at home.