The women's hockey team lost a pair of games over the weekend to No. 5 Harvard and Dartmouth, but the final scores of 4-1 and 4-2, respectively, don't tell the whole story.
Facing one of the top teams in the country, the Crimson, and a Big Green squad locked in a fierce battle for the final ECAC Hockey playoff slot, the Bears (2-18-4, 0-15-3 ECAC) rallied to tie the score in both games and remained close until the waning minutes of each game.
"I think people get caught up in the wins and the losses, but I'm proud of the way my players continue to battle through really tough circumstances," Head Coach Digit Murphy said.
First-years shined for Brown in both games. Victoria Smith '13 scored the first goal of her career on Friday against Harvard, and the following day, Erica Farrer '13 scored twice.
First-years keyed the offense, taking nearly half of the team's shots in each game. And Katie Jamieson '13, who made 39 saves against the Crimson and stopped 32 Big Green shots, "did a really good job keeping the score pretty close," Smith said.
"I'm really proud of the growth and development of the freshman class," Murphy said.
Smith said the Bears came into the weekend ready to give their opponents a fight.
"We knew they were going to be hard games, but we knew that if we worked hard, they weren't going to expect a team that was going to come out and give them a run for their money," she said.
Bruno came out sharp on Friday in Cambridge, Mass., taking just a single penalty before the third period. Facing a 1-0 deficit with under four minutes left in the second, Smith got the puck at the point and shot quickly to elude a defender. With Farrer screening the goalie, the puck slid into the net.
"When I saw the puck go into the net, it didn't even hit me that I had scored until I looked at my teammates, and they were all celebrating," Smith said. "It was a great feeling, especially to score against Harvard."
Saturday's game in Hanover, N.H., began with a Brown goal less than four minutes in, when Farrer capitalized on the rebound off a shot by Jenna Dancewicz '11. After Dartmouth answered with two goals, Farrer tied the score 5:51 into the third period.
"Nicole Brown ('10) did all the work, rushed at the other team and tapped it across, (leading) the defender and giving it right to me to be able to shoot it in," Farrer said.
The Bears appeared to have the momentum.
"Everyone was really positive," Farrer said. "We thought we had a good chance of winning it and just got unlucky at the end."
Both games went south. Harvard answered Smith's goal 1:48 later to take a 2-1 lead into intermission. Brown lost Sasha Van Muyen '10, who had assisted on the goal, to a concussion late in the middle frame, and both she and blueliner Samantha Stortini '11 would sit out the Dartmouth game. The Crimson scored on a quick transition early in the third and tacked on a power-play goal with 32 seconds left.
"It was a lot closer than a 4-1 game," Murphy said.
On Saturday, Dartmouth answered Farrer's second goal within 14 seconds, and tacked on the final goal with under four minutes left.
"It was 2-2, we silenced the crowd, and then … we let them back in and they scored," Murphy said. "That was very frustrating."
This weekend the Bears will play at Meehan Auditorium for the final time this season, hosting Cornell (11-8-6, 10-2-6) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Colgate (9-17-4, 5-9-4) on Saturday at 4 p.m. Farrer said the Bears hope to sneak up on an opponent and pull off an upset.
Freshmen and the future
Despite the pair of losses, this weekend shows how strongly the freshmen have performed. Farrer and Smith said the adjustment to collegiate hockey is a challenge, both citing stronger and faster opponents than they faced in prep school.
"Usually, considering my size, last year I was able to push girls around a lot easier and move them with my body," Farrer said. "This year, it's definitely a battle whenever I get up in front of the net or stuff like that, because these aren't really little girls.
"Especially being four years younger than a lot of them, they just have a lot of experience, but it's good because that makes me have to play better and quicker and move faster."
Smith said it takes a positive attitude to thrive as a freshman.
"Understanding that you're coming in here one of the youngest players, you need to impress the coaches and impress your teammates," she said. "You have to show that you're willing to work really hard and do anything to play."
Murphy said it takes an entire team to develop a key group of freshmen.
"Jamieson's been a stalwart all year, and (Alena) Polenska ('13) and (Laurie) Jolin ('13) on the power play … we've really seen them play key roles in our wins, but it's not just them," Murphy said.
"People like Stortini and (Erica) Kromm ('11) and Erin Connors ('10), those players are actually kind of dragging people up, so it's kind of the growth and maturity of the whole team together that helps the freshmen get better," she continued. "The team is connected in a different way. I think that bodes well for the future of Brown women's hockey."