When forward Sena Hanson ’20 scored eight minutes into the third period to tie the women’s hockey team’s match-up against Boston University, it seemed that Bruno, coming off a four-game stretch without a win, finally had all the momentum. But instead BU fought back, and a trio of third-period goals — the last an empty-netter — were enough to hand the Bears a third straight loss.
“Right after our first goal in the third period, we certainly were on a high right there. But this has been a continuing theme throughout the year,” Hanson said. “We’re either ahead or we’re tied, and something happens where our energy levels dip on the bench, then it relates to that on the ice, and we just seem to lose all the momentum.”
Hanson scored both of Brown’s goals, the first coming 13 minutes into the first period. For 50 minutes, the game was a nail-biter. But after Reagan Rust scored for BU 11 minutes into the third and the Terriers added two points to their lead in the following minutes, Bruno faded away.
“Our team needs to find a way to be able to play three solid periods,” Hanson said. “Right now, I don’t think we’ve played a single game where we’ve played three very good periods in a row.”
Head coach Carisa Wahlig said that giving up two goals in the final minutes of the game was “unacceptable.”
“We need to be able to buckle down in that situation,” she said.
The Bears put up back-to-back upset wins against nationally-ranked opponents the first weekend of November, but ever since, have been unable to recapture the same level of play over a full game. After defeating Colgate and Cornell, Bruno lost 1-0 to Rensselaer, tied Union 2-2, lost 9-1 to Clarkson and fell to St. Lawrence 4-1 before losing to BU.
“Having those two games that we won were very nice, but in a sense it got to our heads,” Hanson said. “We’re thinking about the past when we really (should) be looking ahead toward the future, toward the game that we’re actually playing that day.”
After starting 5-2, the Bears have now fallen to 5-6-1. These wins already represent an improvement over Bruno’s 2017-18 2-27 record, but Wahlig said the team should not be satisfied. The Bears need to enter every game with a winning mindset, she added.
“We can’t fall back into the trap of going into games and wondering how much we’re going to lose by, or if we’re going to lose,” she said. “That’s an automatic recipe for disaster.”
Defender Abby Niewchas ’19, who assisted Hanson’s game-tying goal in the third period against BU, agreed that it was essential for the team to maintain its confidence. “That’s something that we’ve been lacking, going into games with confidence knowing we can compete with the teams that we’re playing against,” she said.
Besides confidence, the Bears have another pressing issue to deal with: One player, Hanson, has scored almost a third of the team’s total goals. Hanson has nine goals; no other player has more than five.
“I don’t think, as a coach, you’re ever okay with just one person putting the puck in the net,” Wahlig said. “That makes it very easy for other teams to have your number when you come in to play them.”
But Niewchas and Hanson both saw silver linings in the loss. Hanson said the team’s work ethic has noticeably improved since last season. “This year, we’re willing to work that much harder to win some more games,” she said.
Niewchas stressed the need to remain positive. “I don’t know any team that’s been successful when they’ve been down on each other,” she said. “Building off of what we do well and working on our mistakes is how we move on as a team.”
One game remains for the Bears this semester: the annual Mayor’s Cup game next Tuesday against Providence College.
“(The winner of) the Mayor’s Cup, that’s the best team in Providence,” Wahlig said. “In this situation, if as a player you’re not up for a game like that, then I’m not really sure if you belong at this level.”
Hanson stressed accountability, and Niewchas emphasized positivity. Both echo themes that Wahlig has underlined in the past as part of the culture she has attempted to bring to the team. But entering the game against Providence, and as the season continues, Wahlig also emphasized the importance of competitive spirit and sustained hard work.