Women’s hockey secures first win of 2019 over Brown, 5-2
For the first time in 2019, Dartmouth women’s hockey emerged from this past weekend with a win. Not only did the team upset close conference rival Brown University 5-2, but the team set a season-high goal tally in the process. Eight players combined for 14 total points, which is the type of production this team has been on the verge of all season long. The next day, however, the team fell 2-0 to Yale University.
Captain Christina Rombaut ’20 opened up the scoring against Brown just 25 seconds into the game. That would be the first of three points by the captain, the next two coming on assists.
Most teams do not get to see such a drastic change of results very often. And for the few times that teams do see something like that, there is usually something tangible to point to that caused the change of narrative.
“Recently, we’ve been really struggling with our second period play,” Rombaut said. “We usually come in strong in the first, and really lack our effort in the second.”
Similarly, head coach Laura Schuler said about the team’s past second period struggles, “I think it’s just a lack of mental focus.”
But the score sheets indicate that was not the case against Brown. The Big Green scored a pair in the first period and then kept the energy high by matching that total in the second.
Several Big Green players have emerged on the score sheet at least once in the season, leaving a three-way tie for first in point totals. Two of those point scorers are first-years Sara McClanahan ’22 and Lotti Odnoga ’22, and the other is the senior Tess Bracken ’19. Bracken added to her point total against Brown, throwing in a pair of points, split between a goal and an assist.
“I think we were just finding the open lanes a lot better,” Bracken said when asked what allowed the team to emerge with a season high total in points. “Lines were starting to click and we were getting chemistry. It was great.”
Open lanes led to a better performance for the team than any other game this season. It has been a common theme all season long for the Big Green to match or even exceed their opponent’s shot totals, yet still come up short. In the team’s loss to Yale on Saturday, both teams registered just over 30 shots (Dartmouth even edged off Yale in the shot totals battle, 32-30), but Yale emerged with a shutout.
Despite the win against Brown, the team still has a lot to work on. Bracken pointed out that the team found several open lanes in the Brown game, but Schuler thinks the problem is still around.
“We have to find ways for our forwards, working a little bit harder, being a little bit grittier to find those second and third chances,” Schuler said. “As well as our [defense] getting pucks through to the net. We’re definitely hitting into too many shins and that’s something that we have to keep working on to get better at.”
The season is coming to a close; only two home games, against Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University, remain out of six games left on the schedule for the women’s team. There are a couple of things to look forward to as this season comes to a close. First, the team still has some opportunities to add to the win column. Brown and Union College still play host to Dartmouth once more each in the conclusion of the season, and the Big Green handily defeated both of those teams at home this year.
“Being able to play these teams again — we are really excited, and hopefully we’ll get a few more wins here at the end of the season,” Rombaut said.
There is one more thing to look forward to if you’re a die hard Big Green hockey fan ... the future. This team has an incredibly talented young core. Three of the top five scorers are first-years: Gabby Billing ’22, McClanahan and Odnoga. If nothing else, these players are picking up a year of experience this season and are going to come back next year and tear up the ice.
“They’ve come in and they’ve made a huge impact right away,” Bracken said. “All of them are really skilled. They love to play hockey and it shows when they’re on the ice, and I think as they go forward they’re just going to make bigger impacts every year. And they’re just going to keep getting better and better and I’m really excited to see what happens.”