February 3, 2007

Lineup Shakeup Yields 6-3 Win at Princeton

Feb. 3, 2007

Box Score

PRINCETON, N.J. - The line of sophomore forward Crysti Howser, senior forward Jenna Spring and senior forward Sheila Zingler had delivered 55 points in 12 games entering the day Saturday, so it would have been easy for Yale head coach Hilary Witt to just stick with that status quo in spite of a stretch that had seen the Bulldogs win only once in five games. Instead, Witt and her staff tweaked the lineup, moving Spring to a different line and teaming senior captain Kristin Savard with Howser and Zingler -- and suddenly Yale started getting goals from some new sources. Five different players scored to lead the Bulldogs to a 6-3 win at Princeton.

"When things aren't going well, some times you just try to mix things up," Witt said. "We thought Savard's speed would be a good addition to the line with Howser and Zingler, and Jenna brought poise [to the line with sophomore forward Sarah Tittman and freshman forward Denise Soesilo]."

The new lines paid immediate dividends, as Savard delivered a power-play goal assisted by Zingler and Howser at 11:30 of the first period to put Yale up 1-0.

"That goal was just an absolute battle goal," Witt said. "There was a big mess in front of the net. Savard got the puck on her forehand, shifted it to her backhand and put it in. It was a phenomenal goal as far as work ethic."

After Princeton's Stephanie Denino tied the game 14 seconds later, the Bulldogs responded behind senior defenseman Regan Gilbride's first goal of the year at the 14:53 mark.

"Regan's goal was a beautiful shot," Witt said. "The puck kicked out to her, she led into it well and put it over the goalie's shoulder."

Zingler assisted on that play. Just over 20 seconds later, senior defenseman Christina Sharun scored off an assist from sophomore defenseman Maggie Westfal to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage. Westfal now has a four-game scoring streak, and Sharun has two goals in the last three games -- as many as she had in the first 23 games total.

The Tigers would eventually come back to tie the game on goals by Annie Greenwood and Kim Pearce, but just 1:49 after Pearce's goal early in the second Zingler grabbed the lead back for the Bulldogs. Assisted by Howser and Savard, her tally at 2:18 gave her her third three-point game in the last eight games.

Yale outshot the Tigers 13-6 in the first period, but Princeton outshot Yale 17-14 over the final two frames. The Bulldogs stayed out of the penalty box, however, keeping the action 5-on-5 for the majority of the game and making things easier for junior goaltender Shivon Zilis (20 saves). Soesilo's interference penalty at 1:38 of the third was Yale's first infraction of the day, and as soon as she got out the penalty box she beat the Princeton defense to put in her sixth goal of the year and extend Yale's lead to 5-3.

The Tigers pulled Brittany Parisi (11 saves), who had come on in relief of Kristen Young (10 saves) after the first period, in the game's final minute. But Soesilo deposited an empty-net goal, assisted by Spring and freshman defenseman Alyssa Clarke, to seal the 6-3 victory.

The win, combined with RPI's 5-1 loss to Harvard, moves Yale into sixth place in the ECAC standings with 18 points. Yale hosts the Engineers at Ingalls Rink next Friday at 7:00 in a game that figures to be crucial for determining the final standing of the two teams heading into the playoffs. Eighth-place Clarkson currently holds down the final playoff spot but trails the Bulldogs by only two points.

"Technically, we're still not in the playoffs yet," Witt said. "We've got to take it one game at a time and clinch a spot."

Witt also was pragmatic about whether the new line combinations will remain in effect in the future.

"We'll wait and see," Witt said. "I like the way Savard played with Howser and Zingler, and I like the way Jenna played with Denise and Sarah."

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity