The Importance of Being Haggard

by Sammy Kardon | 1/11/02 6:00am

After losing a vital league game against a less-talented Princeton squad last Saturday, the No. 5 Dartmouth women icers spent this week trying to correct the problems that led to that momentary lapse against the Tigers.

"We have refocused this week in practice," co-captain Kim McCullough said.

"The team is taking on more responsibility for our play and we are really holding each other accountable to putting forth maximum effort every second on the ice."

Although Dartmouth (9-2-1, 5-1-0 ECAC North) has been one of the top programs in the country in the last three years, twice going to the Frozen Four and with a very favorable shot this year, the team has been plagued by some inconsistency, especially against less-talented teams that catch the Big Green icers napping.

This phenomenon manifests itself from several sources, all familiar from years past, like exhaustion, the underestimation of opponents and other teams' desires to knock off a top team. However, a new possibility has come up this year.

The other potential problems still exist this year, but not to the same extent, as Carly Haggard '03 has emerged as the best player on the team. She leads the Big Green with 13 goals and 14 assists, and is one of the top players in Division I. Haggard leads the nation in points per game with 2.00.

"I haven't done anything different from the previous two years," the junior from Port Alberni, B.C., explained. "But this year since we have a younger team, all the upperclassmen, including myself, have stepped up their games."

That says a lot since her first two years were spectacular. As a freshman, she was Ivy and ECAC rookie of the year while amassing 24 goals and 17 assists, good for second on the Big Green. Last year, she led the team with 36 points, good for 10th in the country, and made the all-Ivy second team and earned an all-ECAC honorable mention.The way this year is going, she may even be an All-American.

Anyone who has seen Haggard knows that she has an incredible knack for making plays. She is a strong skater with unbelievable reach and an agile dexterity with the puck that belies her formidable strength.

"Very few people go to the net with the sort of force and purpose that she does," McCullough said of her compatriot.

Haggard's uncanny ability to manufacture goals has even earned her time playing for Canada's under-22 National Team.

The problem is that she is so good at scoring that some of her teammates may look to her a little too quickly when the going gets tough like it did against Princeton.

"One thing that happens when you have someone who scores like she can is that at times you feel like other people are waiting for her to do it," coach Judy Oberting '94 said after the Princeton game.

This is not an unusual occurrence in team sports like hockey and basketball where an individual can essentially take over a game, but it is new for the Big Green.

While the past few incarnations of the Big Green have been great teams by any standard, easily finishing near the top of the polls, they did so without superstars. The hallmark of those teams was their sheer depth. Dartmouth would throw three, sometimes four, equally or almost-equally potent lines at other teams until the opposition just wore down.

That is still true this season, but if there happens to be a little more of a dependence on Haggard, she welcomes the challenge.

"At times I do feel some pressure," she admitted, "as I'm sure other people on the team do as well, but one thing that I have always thrived on is pressure."

No matter what her numbers indicate, Haggard doesn't think she is any different from her teammates.

"I don't really feel like other people are waiting for me, or anybody else for that matter to do everything," she continued. "I think everybody on this team contributes and that's how in the past we've been successful and that's how we will be successful again this year."

With mediocre ECAC North cellar-dwellers Cornell and Colgate coming up at home this weekend, it will probably be a while before the Big Green faces real pressure again.

Nevertheless, the team is taking nothing for granted after the loss to Princeton.

"Every single game we play for the rest of the season is must win," a wary McCullough said in no uncertain terms. "It is often those 'unknown' teams that sneak up and surprise you."

Hopefully, the hard lesson of the Princeton game has sunk in.