By Itai Merlin
Coming off of an impressive 4-1 performance against Merrimack less than 24 hours earlier, Boston University Women’s Hockey (10-15-2, 9-12-2 HE) extended their unbeaten streak to five games as they defeated the No. 11 University of Vermont Catamounts (18-10-1, 13-8-1 HE) by a score of 2-1 in overtime on Saturday afternoon.
While Friday’s contest featured a hat trick from junior forward Madison Cardaci, Saturday’s game against Vermont was a much more defense-oriented matchup. With the help of Cardaci and senior forward Julia Nearis, the Terriers continued their hot streak, going 3-0-2 in their past five games.
“I think one thing we’ve changed about five games ago was how we’re playing in the neutral zone,” BU Head Coach Brian Durocher said. “Before, we were somewhat free-wheeling it, playing a conservative system, but not playing it very thoroughly. But recently, we’ve played a much more congested style of hockey, specifically in the neutral zone.”
The game got off to a quick start when junior forward Catherine Foulem retrieved the puck in the offensive zone and scored top shelf on Vermont junior goaltender Jessie McPherson, scoring on the Terriers’ first shot of the game. Only a few minutes later, Foulem nearly scored her second of the game when she hit the crossbar with about 12 minutes remaining in the first frame.
Although the Terriers scored an early goal, the shots midway through the first were just 2-1 in favor of the Catamounts. After Christina Vote failed to convert on a breakaway opportunity with about 5:30 remaining, the Catamounts responded with a breakaway of their own from freshman Lara Beecher. After graduate goalie Andrea Brändli made the initial save, sophomore Evelyne Blais-Savoie converted on the rebound opportunity.
Brändli continued her strong play today, making multiple crucial stops including a huge save when the Catamounts went on the power play 2:28 into the second period. Brändli finished the game with 22 saves with a save percentage of .954.
At the end of the second period, the Terriers only managed to have 11 shots on goal as opposed to 21 shots for the Catamounts and were looking for a spark going into the third period. The Terriers had their best period in the third, leading the shot category 9-2 at the end of the final period of regulation.
“I think in the second intermission we realized how crucial points are to our team at this point in the season,” Nearis said. “In the third we just tried to keep as disciplined as possible in the [defensive] zone, which eventually led to more shots in the offensive zone.”
Nearis proved to be the hero of the afternoon, scoring a breakaway goal only 19 seconds into overtime to give the Terriers a 2-1 win. Her 10th goal of the season went five-hole, which she referred to as her “go-to move.”
The Terriers will look to continue their hot streak next weekend when they face the University of Connecticut Huskies on Feb. 3rd. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Walter Brown Arena.