For second season in a row, Mercyhurst beats Cornell in NCAA quarterfinals
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Mercyhurst won 3-2 at Cornell Saturday afternoon. Christine Bestland led with two goals and an assist, while Amanda Makela made 29 saves in goal to lead the Lakers to a NCAA tournament quarterfinal win at Lynah Rink.
Trailing 1-0 in the second period, momentum swung in the Lakers' favor. A Cornell penalty put Mercyhurst on the power play at the 9:06 mark. The Lakers pushed the Big Red defense, attempting five shots. As time ran down on the penalty, Molly Byrne's shot from the blue line got past Lauren Slebodnick, tying the score with seven seconds left on the power play.
The Lakers continued to pressure Cornell, as Emily Janiga won a faceoff on the left side of the offensive zone. She passed to Bestland, who wrapped around to the right side of the net and beat Slebodnick, giving Mercyhurst a 2-1 edge at the 14:42 mark.
Cornell took two more penalties late in the frame, with the Lakers peppering the Big Red net. However, the hosts escaped to the locker room down a goal through two periods.
At the 7:08 mark of the third period, Cornell's Jess Brown was called for hooking. After two Slebodnick saves, Jenna Dingeldein and Christie Cicero set up Bestland for a goal and a 3-1 lead at the 8:08 mark.
The hosts were not done though, as a Laker penalty gave the Big Red a chance to rally. Makela came up with two more saves, but after the power play ended, Emily Fulton scored her second goal of the day with 4:29 remaining. Cornell attempted 10 shots in the final minutes, but Lauren Kilroy and Janiga each came up with blocks and Makela made a stop as the Lakers held on and beat Cornell in the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season.
The first period went back and forth and end-to-end, as each team challenged the opposing defense. Cornell's Jessica Campbell had the first big chance, but her breakaway shot was stopped by Makela. Just a few minutes later, Christie Cicero had her backhand shot saved by Slebodnick. Cicero was then called for crosschecking at the 6:09 mark.
Shelby Bram followed with a tripping penalty, setting up a five-on-three power play for the Big Red. The Lakers held Cornell at bay briefly, but Emily Fulton converted at the 7:39 mark, putting the hosts ahead 1-0. Jillian Saulner and Alyssa Gagliardi assisted on the goal.
Mercyhurst tried to even the score, putting three shots on goal, but Slebodnick slowed each try. Cornell's Hayleigh Cudmore was booked for hitting from behind at the 13:45 mark, giving the Lakers a power play. Three more Mercyhurst shots were turned away, while Makela had to stop a Fulton breakaway attempt early in the man advantage.
Bestland finished with two goals and an assist. Her three points moved her into second place on Mercyhurst's career scoring list.
Makela tallied 29 saves in her NCAA tournament debut. The Lakers won 35 faceoffs, compared to 26 for Cornell.
Mercyhurst is in the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in six years. The Lakers won at Cornell in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals last season as well.
The Lakers improved to 23-8-4, while the Big Red ended its season with a 24-6-4 record.