Quinnipiac women’s hockey sealed a victorious alumni weekend Saturday with a 2-1 win over the University of New Hampshire thanks to the late game heroics of junior center Morgan Fritz-Ward.
Late in the third period the Bobcats were tied 1-1 with their opponent when Fritz-Ward picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated toward the net, and put a wrist shot into the lower left corner past Wildcat goaltender Ashley Wilkes.
“It got deflected and I was just coming through,” Fritz-Ward said. “I didn’t think it went in until the buzzer went off.”
In just her second start, Wilkes took on a lot of shots from her opponent, especially in close. She had 29 shots on target against her, letting in two. Despite most of the opportunities coming in close, Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seely felt that his team was not strong enough in front of the net.
The one player for the home team who did show persistence up close was senior Kelly Babstock, who scored the equalizer to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period. Junior left wing Shiann Darkangelo, with the puck on the right side of the net, crossed it across the middle to Babstock who took a first shot that was saved by Wilkes. Babstock then got the rebound and flipped it in to put her team on the board.
“Around the net we weren’t battling,” Seely said. “When Babstock is around the net she battles.”
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first period when Arielle O’Neill received a pass from teammate Hannah Armstrong right in front of the blue line on the right side. She took a soft wrist shot that surprisingly slid past the pads of Laden, who acknowledged her mistake.
“Yeah, definitely a weak goal,” Laden said in criticism of herself. “I just tried to forget about it.”
Seely, however, was not worried, noting that it was the “first weak goal she’s given up all year.” He feels now, in replacement of Victoria Vigilanti, that her confidence has blossomed.
“Her progression has been unbelievable. Confidence was an issue last year, but once she knew the job was hers, she’s been unstoppable. Letting in that goal didn’t affect her like it would have last year. She’s been great for us.”
The Bobcats held the dominant advantage in shots, putting 29 on target versus the Wildcat’s eight, although most of Quinnipiac’s were in close where they failed to capitalize. Luckily, forcing their opponent to such a low number of shots helped secure the victory.
“I thought we did a much better job defensively and back pressuring,” Seely said. “That effort and intensity was great.”
Seely felt that the team relished too much in its win on Friday against Boston College and that they need to work more on weekend back-to-back games.
“We have to prepare for a whole weekend during the week,” Seely said. “I think we have to do a better job as coaches preparing them to play a full 120 minutes.”
The team will have until next Friday and Saturday when they face off against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, respectively, to improve upon that dilemma.