Oswego State clinches semifinals appearance

Freshman Erika Truschke attempts to advance the puck and evade a defender during the Lakers’ 3-1 opening-round victory against Buffalo State.  (Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)
Freshman Erika Truschke attempts to advance the puck and evade a defender during the Lakers’ 3-1 opening-round victory against Buffalo State.
(Perry Kennedy | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State women’s hockey team overcame an early deficit and mounted a third period comeback to secure a 3-1 opening-round playoff victory and eliminate Buffalo State from the ECAC West playoffs.

The Bengals scored on a two-on-one opportunity that was a result of a lapse from the Oswego State defense. Buffalo State’s Kara Goodwin beat Laker goalie Tori Trovato after receiving a pass from Nikki Kirchberger to give her squad a 1-0 lead.

Despite allowing the early goal, Oswego State controlled the time of possession throughout first period and, subsequently, throughout the game. The Lakers attacked the net and recorded 23 shots by the end of the second period, compared to just seven for Buffalo State. However, the Lakers were unable to pull even and entered the final period trailing 1-0 thanks to the strong play of Buffalo State goalie Jordan Lee.

Despite trailing in the third period, head coach Diane Dillon said the Lakers never lacked confidence.

“What was important going into that last 20 minutes was there was belief in the locker room,” Dillon said.

The Lakers stepped up their play in the third period and continued to attack the net. Oswego State was unable to put the puck in the net in the first three minutes of the period, as Lee turned away shot after shot.

However, at the 3:08 mark of the period the Lakers’ persistence and tenacity paid off. Senior defensemen Leslie Jarvis chipped a lead pass up to senior captain Olivia Boersen, who weaved through the offensive zone and ripped a hard shot low into the Lee’s pads. While Lee made the initial save, senior forward Emma Smetaniuk pounced on the rebound and beat the Buffalo State net-minder to tie the score at 1-1, swinging the momentum to Oswego State’s favor.

Oswego State continued to crash the net and took the lead after Melissa Seamont beat Lee at the 7:51 mark. Freshman Erika Truschke and Jarvis advanced the puck to Seamont and were both credited with assists on the play.

Oswego State added its third and final goal just 19 seconds later when senior Mady Paul put the puck in the net with the Lakers on the power play. Paul beat Lee with a backhand move and lifted the puck over Lee’s right pad.

“I always work on following the defense and getting to the open space on the power play and it worked,” Paul said.

The Laker defense stifled Buffalo State’s offense and wreaked havoc in the center of the ice to keep the puck out of the defensive zone. After allowing the first period goal, Trovato was a rock between the pipes and finished the game with seven saves. Lee finished the game with 37 saves in the loss.

Dillon said her team was prepared to mount the comeback.

“This group of seniors has been in the playoffs all four years and I think that experience helps,” Dillon said.

Jarvis said that the team’s ability to come together in the final period turned the game around.

“Our main thing is to work together, to play together and not as individuals,” said Jarvis, who set up the tying and eventual game-winning goals and finished the game with two assists.

The Lakers’ victory advances the team into the ECAC West semifinals in Plattsburgh when they will square off against No. 2 Elmira College on Saturday. Oswego State dropped its two regular season battles to Elmira during the regular season.

On Jan. 24, Oswego State fell 5-2 at home against the Soaring Eagles and lost an overtime thriller, 2-1, the following day.

Jarvis said she is confident heading into Saturday.

“Going onto next weekend, I think we’re going to do very well, especially with the momentum coming off this game,” Jarvis said. “We’re a gritty, hard-working team and that’s how we do it.”