By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
Miami University women's hockey had a golden opportunity to repeat as national champions after beating University of Michigan 3-1 Friday in the last game of pool play and downing Grand Valley State University 6-0 in the semifinals Saturday. However, first period mistakes against Liberty University cost the RedHawks as they fell 4-1 in the final game Sunday.
"It's not what we were looking for," head coach Scott Hicks said. "It wasn't for a lack of effort. We played hard but we gave up a few quick ones early. We're not going to make any drastic changes; we won 29 games. We still had a good year. We'll need to refocus, reload, and regroup for next year."
Miami started slow against Liberty in the weekend's final matchup. After the Flames scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, Miami pulled sophomore goaltender Emalee Wills in favor of freshman Carly Van Orden. Junior center Haley Williams answered for the Red and White 3:57 into the second, before LU retaliated with a goal less than three minutes later.
Van Orden was pulled with 3:04 left in the game, but Liberty held on to win the national championship. Though shots were 25-19 in favor of the RedHawks, lackluster play in the first period buried them.
After 2:16 elapsed in the first period against Michigan, Williams and junior defender Morgan McGrath both found the back of the net before freshman left wing Carly Noble went top shelf five minutes later.
Michigan scored with 14:25 to go in the second, but the 'Hawks held on as they controlled much of the game, outshooting UM 27-18.
The semifinal round against Grand Valley was an offensive onslaught. The Red and White had 48 shots on goal, while the Lakers only mustered 18 shots. Sophomore center Katie Augustine and sophomore right wing Kaley Mooney got on the board in the second period. A goal by sophomore right wing Rachael Booth, two by sophomore forward Jordan Hanson and one by freshman center Katie Baldwin in the third frame put the game out of reach.
The 'Hawks were 1 for 5 on the power play and shut down four GVSU man advantages.
"We were confident heading into the tournament and we had some tough times but we stayed positive the whole way," Williams said. "We had four games where we were good enough to get into the finals. Both teams came out hard, but Liberty got three goals in the first period and that's hard to come back from. We feel like we dominated the rest of the game, especially in the third period but we couldn't get the puck in the net. After being defending champions, it's hard to be runners up, but we'll have more to play for next year and we'll get the chance to redeem ourselves."