The women’s hockey team (4-17-2, 4-11-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) upset No. 7 ranked Yale (16-5-1, 10-4-1 ECAC) 4-1 Friday night at Meehan Auditorium before losing to the Bulldogs 5-1 in New Haven Sunday afternoon. The Friday victory was the program’s first over a ranked opponent since November 2018, when the Bears defeated No. 6 Cornell.
The win included Brown’s first four-goal team performance of the season and established the team’s first winning streak following the Bears’ defeat of Union College 2-1 on Tuesday.
“We know we’re capable of this. We just have to play a really solid game and that’s what we did,” Head Coach Melanie Ruzzi said.
The Bears were outshot 32-17 in the game, but 31 saves from goalie Kaley Doyle ’24 and 15 blocked shots from Bruno skaters helped limit the Bulldogs — a team with the fifth highest goals-per-game average in the country — to only one goal. “They were just grinding,” Ruzzi said. “The defenders were boxing out in front of the net, picking up sticks, there were no second attempts at pucks (and) wings were blocking.”
The Bears began the game on the backfoot, with Doyle forced into action within the first 30 seconds to deny a shot from a promising Yale 2-on-1 rush. With Doyle repeatedly fighting through scrums in the front of the net to deny Bulldog opportunities, the game remained scoreless for much of the period.
With less than a minute left until intermission, defender Abby Hancock ’25 threaded a pass through the defense to forward Tina Paolillo ’22, whose breakaway chance was denied by the Yale goalie. But continued pressure behind the net from forward Madie Stockfish ’24 returned the puck to the front of the net, where forward Maya Mangiafico ’24 picked it up, sent the goalie lunging the wrong way and flipped it in to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. It was Mangiafico’s fourth goal of the season. The Bulldogs drew equal on a power-play early in the second period with a quick wrister from defender Vita Poniatovskaia that made its way through traffic and into the top corner of the net. The next 10 minutes consisted of hard-fought, physical action that included matching roughing penalties from Bruno forward Anna Hurd ’25 and Yale defender Greta Skarzynski.
The Bears broke the deadlock in stunning fashion with five minutes left until intermission. Defender Cameron Sikich ’25 picked up the puck in the neutral zone and weaved through the Yale defense, leaving one defender fallen on the ice before ripping a wrist shot into the top corner. The goal was the first of her college career.
“The space opened up when their defense fell and I was just trying to get the puck on net, to be honest,” Sikich said. Yale raised its attacking pressure for the rest of the period, forcing Doyle to make a number of important saves, chief of which was a slick glove snare from a Yale 2-on-0 chance.
In the third period, after a Yale high-stick put the Bears on the power play, a pass from forward Anna Gallagher ’24 found forward and team captain Shay Maloney ’22 at the top of the right circle. Maloney’s low slap shot beat the Yale goalie’s outstretched blocker for her ninth goal of the season. Gallagher “has great vision on the ice so she was able to find me up top. It was pretty much all her, I just (added) the final touch,” Maloney said.
Maloney’s goal gave the Bears their first multi-goal lead of the season. “Scoring twice in a row was huge for us,” Sikich said. “We haven’t had a two-goal lead ever yet, so when we got that third goal, it was a really big energy boost for us.”
After the goal, Bruno’s defense held strong, with Doyle making a sprawling glove save on a Yale breakaway with seven minutes to go. “Kaley Doyle gives us a ton of confidence,” Ruzzi said. “She made some huge, huge saves.” Brown iced the game with 34 seconds left when Stockfish slotted the puck in an empty net after Yale pulled its goalie, giving the Bears their second win in a row and fourth of the season.
“We’re a really young team, so we’re learning,” said Ruzzi. “These last two games and even the stretch coming back from break (are the results) of growing.”
Sikich also mentioned the team’s higher energy level as an important factor in the game’s result, particularly given the Brown University Band’s appearance at the game. “The band … especially was boosting us up,” she said. “Pregame, we had a lot of energy going.”
The win also snapped an 11-game losing streak for Brown against Yale, stretching back to January 2015. “This is definitely special for us, especially us seniors because we’ve never beaten [Yale],” Maloney said. “It was a huge win for the team and definitely a confidence booster.”
But the Bears were unable to carry their momentum into Sunday’s gamein New Haven. Gallagher scored the lone Bruno goal at the end of the second period to make it a 2-1 game, but two Bulldog goals on either side of the intermission turned the game into a blowout. “It was not something that Yale did,” Ruzzi said of the difference between the two games. “We did not execute.” Ruzzi specifically identified cheap turnovers given away by the Bears as a factor in the lopsided scoreline.
“We know we can play with anybody in the country,” Ruzzi said of the weekend series as a whole. “Our details need to be on point.”
The Bears will return to the ice next weekend in a visit to Union on Friday and Dartmouth on Sunday. “Those are two games we have to win,” Ruzzi said.
Despite the disheartening nature of Sunday’s loss, Ruzzi affirmed that it was a learning experience, saying, “You learn more from a loss than you do a win.”