Senior forward Kristin O'Neill and junior linemate Maddie Mills added two more, leading the Cornell women's hockey team to a 4-0 victory over Harvard on Saturday afternoon in the first semifinal of the ECAC Hockey Championships at Lynah Rink. With the win, top-ranked Cornell (28-1-3) will advance to the championship game slated for 2 p.m. Sunday against the winner of Saturday's second semifinal, pitting second-seeded Princeton against third-seeded Clarkson, which is also being contested at Lynah Rink.
Junior goaltender Lindsay Browning made 24 saves for the shutout, which sets the program's single-season record with 12. She was particularly sharp late in the second period, turning away a flurry of shots just before the intermission to keep Cornell's three-goal lead intact.
O'Neill opened the game with a couple of one-timers during the second half of the first period. Senior defenseman Jaime Bourbonnais and senior forward Amy Curlew brought the puck down the ice from behind the Cornell goal for the O'Neill shot. The Crimson defense did not want to let O'Neill take her chance so she instead sent the puck behind her toward junior defenseman Kendra Nealey. Ready for the pass, Nealey sent the puck to O'Neill for a diving shot, one Harvard's Lindsay Reed was not ready to stop.
O'Neill's second goal came with just over one minute left in the first period. Similar to the first in that the goal followed a missed shot by O'Neill, she scored the second goal of the game three touches after a wide shot. Senior defenseman Micah Zandee-Hart went to the corner of the rink to collect the wide shot and sent it toward Mills, behind the net, on the other side of the ice. Ready for the pass, Mills one-touched it towards O'Neill, who dumped the puck into the top corner of the net on her knees.
Mills followed O'Neill's two scores with a couple of her own. Both of the junior's goals came in the early parts of the second and third periods. Just over three minutes into the second, and 30 seconds into a power-play, Mills notched her first goal of the night from the top left of the slot. Receiving a pass from Zandee-Hart, Mills dodged a Harvard defender before placing her shot into the net.
The Big Red's final goal came two minutes into the final period. Once again, Mills scored her goal less than 30 seconds into a Cornell power-play. Receiving a pass from O'Neill, Mills slotted her shot in the very top right corner, a shot the goalie was unable to save.
At the finale of the first semifinal game, three Big Red skaters totaled three points - Mills (2-1-3), O'Neill (2-1-3), and Zandee-Hart (0-3-3).
Notching the game-winning goal, O'Neill now holds the Cornell record with 21 career game-winning goals.
The Big Red will return to action against the winner of the second semifinal game, second-seeded Princeton or third-seeded Clarkson, on Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m. at Lynah Rink.