The Eagles fell short of their lofty preseason expectations yesterday in Potsdam, NY with a tough 3-1 loss at Clarkson in the NCAA quarterfinals. Clarkson advanced to the Frozen Four in Hamden, CT.
The Eagles weathered a tough first couple of shifts against a Clarkson team that showed up ready to play, and responded well with some great chances of their own. The high-flying first period remained scoreless until 4 minutes left in the period when senior forward Jamie Lee Rattray, one of the favorites to win the Patty Kazmaier award when it is announced next week, took a shot from the blue line that was deflected past Corinne Boyles.
BC had some opportunities in the second period but couldn't tie up the game. Coach Crowley felt that those missed opportunities were what hurt BC the most.
When you get to the NCAA tournament all the little things matter. You have to capitalize on the opportunities that you get. We had opportunities that we weren't able to capitalize on which hurt us last Sunday [against BU] and this weekend.
Sure enough, Clarkson did what good teams do and jumped at the opportunity to extend the lead. Halfway through the period, it was Brittany Styner who found the back of the net for the Golden Knights, again assisted by Rattray.
Unfortunately, any hopes BC had of starting a comeback were dashed right at the start of the third period. Gagnon scored her second just 23 seconds in -- with a third helper from Rattray -- and BC was clearly deflated. The Eagles couldn't get much going until the very end of the period, where a late burst was too little, too late, as BC could only tally a late power play goal to make the final 3-1. From Coach Crowley --
Clarkson played really well tonight. They were a physical team which I thought was a big factor in the game.
They also relied on their older players (4 out of their top 5 scorers are seniors) to produce for them and it seemed they had a little more composure from that. Our younger players will learn from this game and hopefully it'll help when they're juniors and seniors to be more composed in key scoring situations.
All of Clarkson's points but 1 were scored by seniors, and it certainly appeared that the Golden Knights were able to keep the pressure on regardless of the game situation. And it's true that BC is a young team -- of BC's top 11 scoreres, only two are seniors, Taylor Wasylk (4th on the team in scoring) and Melissa Bizzari (9th).
One of the real bright spots on the night for BC -- yet again -- was almost certainly the play of junior defenseman Emily Pfalzer. Pfalzer's skillset was on display again last night, where her ability to set up offense from the blue line combined with her exceptional speed allows her to play deeper into the offensive zone while still being able to get back to rejoin the play should BC lose possession. Coach Crowley singled out Pfalzer after the game.
I thought Emily was the best player on the ice tonight. She has always been a great player, but did come on strong in the second half. This year she came back from a serious injury and surgery and was able to really be truly healthy come the second half of the year. I'm excited to see her come back next year with a full healthy summer under her belt.
Looking ahead to next season, BC could possibly have their most talented team yet. Pfalzer could be a dark horse to make the Patty Kaz final 10 as a defenseman, and perhaps most importantly, the Eagles will once again have the services of top line Team USA forward Alex Carpenter, who will return for her third season after the year off training for the Olympics. We asked Coach Crowley if there was a chance we might finally see one of the western powers come out east --
We are having trouble finding a WCHA team to play us. Next year we will have a similar schedule.
-- but it looks like they're too busy losing to each other to come east for a real challenge.
So that's a wrap on a tough year for the Eagles, but there's a lot of optimism to be had for the future.