Top Story, Women's Hockey

Eagles Avoid Upset, Fend off Catamounts in Overtime

Daryl Watts knew she needed to make a play. The freshman had tallied a point in 15-straight games coming into the Friday night’s matchup against Vermont, but as the puck dropped at the start of overtime, her streak was in serious jeopardy.

A little over a minute into the extra frame, Boston College women’s hockey began a methodical rush from its own end. Makenna Newkirk found Watts at the top of the attacking third, who then wrapped the puck around a Vermont defender. Her nifty move to the low slot failed to produce a goal, but after tracking down the rebound, Watts was gifted another chance.

This time, she made it count.

Watts passed the puck to Serena Sommerfield at the point, and in an instant the game was over. Sommerfield’s shot somehow managed to weave its way through multiple UVM defenders and, most importantly, the glove of goaltender Sydney Scobee. The sophomore’s third goal of the season was the game-winner for BC, as the Eagles escaped with a 3-2, overtime victory. By getting the assist on the game’s final play, Watts—who insisted after the game that her individual accolades mean nothing—also managed to preserve her streak.

Watts’s teammate Caitrin Lonergan had already managed to extend her own point streak to 16 games just minutes into the game. She intercepted a Catamounts (6-15-4, 3-10-3 Hockey East) clearance attempt and immediately staged a counter attack, feeding Kenzie Kent in the slot, who proceeded to beat Scobee on her glove side.

Despite the early lead, the Eagles (21-2-3, 14-1-3) never could distance themselves from the Catamounts during regulation. The BC defense allowed just two shots in the entire first period—tied for the lowest mark posted all year for the team in a single frame—but allowed UVM to get on the board two minutes into the second. Saana Valkama made an aggressive defensive move and forced a turnover in her offensive third. She raced down to the near boards and got the puck to Alyssa Gorecki, who put home a one-timer to tie the game at one apiece.

The tie wouldn’t last the rest of the period. Kent returned the favor to Lonergan with under five minutes left in the second when she forced a turnover in the Catamounts’ own end. Lonergan received a backhand pass, beat a defender, and then sent a shot past Scobee to retake the lead.

Yet again, UVM never panicked—in fact, it retaliated in the opening minutes of another period. Just over two minutes into the third frame, the Catamounts found themselves on the power play. BC came close to killing its fifth penalty of the game, but Ali O’Leary took advantage of an Eagles defense that looked out of sorts. Amanda Drobot simply crossed the puck into the low slot for O’Leary, who deflected the puck past a diving Katie Burt to tie the game.

After that, the Eagles were lucky to keep UVM off the scoreboard. Despite outshooting the Catamounts, 39-19, BC allowed some dangerous scoring chances in the third period that put the game in doubt. Twice, Burt had to bail out her teammates after careless turnovers in the defensive zone created 1-on-1 opportunities for UVM, effectively forcing overtime.

In the end, it was Sommerfield and the offense that won the game for the Eagles. BC won its 17th-straight game against the Catamounts and took the air out of the sails belonging to a team that seemed ready to upset another top-10 opponent. With momentum on its side, BC will rest up before another game against UVM on Saturday afternoon. If history is any indication, it will be Watts and Lonergan once again looking to score points in bunches for the Eagles—still one of the hottest teams in all of women’s college hockey.

“In the second half of the season, it’s all about continuing to get better toward playoff time,” head coach Katie Crowley said. “I think we did a great job of that today.”

Featured Image Melissa Rice / Heights Staff

January 19, 2018