Seven months after watching the Cornell University women’s hockey team celebrate its trip to the next round of the NCAA tournament, junior goaltender Kerrin Sperry can rejoice in having defeated the Big Red Saturday for the first time since her freshman year at Boston University.
The game, a 5–1 victory, came a day after BU was roughed up by Cornell in the teams’ first meeting since the Big Red defeated the Terriers with just 10.1 seconds left in triple overtime.
“It’s a great feeling,” Sperry said of the win. “We all go back a little ways. It was nice to beat them in the NCAAs my freshman year. [We] had a tough time with them last year — just couldn’t seem to shake them. And [Saturday] was a really tough game.
“It was great to finally get the win.”
Sperry has been in the net for every game the Terriers have played against Cornell during the netminder’s three seasons with BU. The only exception was when junior Braly Hiller, who is not playing this season because of injury, saw a period’s worth of playing time during a 7–1 rout by Cornell in November of last year.
Coming into this weekend, Sperry was ready to bounce back against a team that appeared to have BU’s number for the past year.
“Cornell’s obviously a talented team. They’re a big name,” Sperry said before the weekend series. “[When] we lost to them last year in the quarterfinals of the NCAAs … that was something you don’t forget about. However, you move forward. I’m extremely excited to play that caliber of hockey coming up this weekend, and I’m looking forward to giving them an extremely tough goaltender to play against.”
The meeting on Saturday was far from what Sperry — and the rest of the BU squad — had hoped for. The Terriers gave up a 2–1 lead in the second period, ultimately losing 5–2.
On Sunday, however, Sperry and the Terriers’ defense stepped up to the challenge, holding Cornell to just 23 shots — 11 fewer than BU gave up the night before.
Durocher said that the win was partly due to Sperry taking more control between the pipes.
“I think she was really resilient, which was great,” Durocher said. “I think she fought just a little bit harder at holding her ground. Maybe [Saturday] there was a couple of funny hops, couple of pucks that seemed to have eyes. But I also didn’t think she kind of fought for her space.
“That blue paint’s got to be yours, and if it gets crowded you still have to exert yourself and get out there so that you’re taking away any rebound chances and giving yourself a better opportunity.”
Sperry said her defense helped her out immensely during the contest as it battled in front of her to stop some of Cornell’s shots.
“My defense played amazingly for me today, obviously as you can see from the shot count,” Sperry said. “You’re blocking shots, we’re getting pucks out and they’re creating angles so that when I did have to make a save, it was an easier save instead of stretching across the crease.”
According to Sperry, BU’s win on Sunday will intensify the rivalry between two schools that have already been deemed fierce competitors.
“It’s a little bit intense, if you couldn’t tell from the game,” Sperry said. “We get some chirping going on out there. Now we’re going back and forth with wins and loses — it’s going to get even more intense.”
While the Terriers do not have another scheduled bout against Cornell this year, after two consecutive years of playing each other in the NCAA tournament, it seems they may be facing each other in the post season.
“[We’re] two top teams in the nation, I mean we’re going to be competitive,” Sperry said. “Not only that, but the Canadians can get kind of tense, so it makes it interesting.”