March 23, 2013

BC women fall agonizingly short of national title game

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

For Boston College, their most successful season in history record-wise ended on Friday night, but reaching the Frozen Four championship remains an elusive goal. 

The Eagles (27-7-3) fell to the undefeated University of Minnesota (40-0-0) in overtime in their national championship semifinal, 3-2, despite an outstanding effort by senior goaltender Corrine Boyles. Boyles turned away 36 shots and stood on her head in her final collegiate start. 

"She was phenomenal," said BC head coach Katie King Crowley post-game. "She made all the saves we needed her to make. She's been great all year."

The BC defense as a whole was strong Friday night, with captain Blake Bolden playing what King Crowley labeled as "her best game." Bolden hustled to get pucks into the Minnesota zone, blocked shots and chased down Gophers players to stop breakaways. She singlehandedly put a stop to a Minnesota breakaway when she chased down Minnesota's Baylee Gillanders in the third period and got the very tip of her stick on the shot to turn it away.

Offensively, Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.) continued her high level of play in the playoffs, getting off three shots within the first five minutes of the first period to set the tone for the Eagles. Field pressed Minnesota's defense, showing great vision to find the spaces to make opportunities happen for her and her linemates. 

After a scoreless first 35 minutes of the game, Field tallied the goal that put BC on the board first. She first drew a tripping call on the Gophers Kelly Terry to give the Eagles the woman advantage with just under four minutes left in the second period . Then she took advantage of the bouncy rebounds Minnesota goaltender Noora Raty kept letting up, roofing the bounce back from an Alex Carpenter (Reading, Mass.) shot. The helper gave Carpenter her 38th assist of the season, further cementing her single-season school record. 

"I thought (Emily) had a great game today. She was fired up for this game, and you could tell," said King Crowley. "I thought she was great."

Though Minnesota star forward Amanda Kessel didn't seem to be skating at 100 percent, the Gophers spread out scoring wasn't about to let BC have the lead for long. A hooking call on Bolden just 34 seconds into the third period gave Minnesota a power play opportunity, and Hannah Brandt was able to tip in a Meghan Bozek shot to knot up the game. 

Traffic in front of Boyles allowed Minnesota's Becky Kortum to chip in a Rachael Bona shot to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead with just under eight minutes left in the game. 

The Eagles answered exactly two minutes later, with Lexi Bender doing her part on offense. Raty let up another highly welcoming rebound on a Haley Skarupa shot, and Bender nudged it in.

The two teams played evenly in the remaining minutes of regulation and headed into overtime. Carpenter had a good chance on Raty, but the Minnesota goaltender got the save. The Gophers started peppering Boyles, and just a 1:39 into overtime, Sarah Davis shot it past Boyles, who was out of position and too far away from the goal line to fix herself, to earn Minnesota the win.

Despite BC finding themselves on the losing end of a NCAA semifinal for the third straight year, King Crowley remains positive about this year's team. "This is probably one of the closet teams that' we've had at Boston College, and you could see that on the bench. You could see that in locker room in between periods. You could see the kids grow up right in front of you all season long.

"I am just extremely proud of our team, and of that this team has meant to our program."

Twitter: @sportsgirlkat