Women bow out in first round of NCAA tournament

Boston College scored four first period goals and couldn’t be caught.

Dane Mizutani

Going down four goals early in the first game of the NCAA tournament was not part of the plan.

In fact, entering the matchup, the goal âÄî as it has been the entire season âÄî was to strike early.

No. 3 Minnesota did not get the memo.

Instead on Saturday, Boston College (24-6-6, 13-4-4 WHEA) jumped out to a two goal lead within the first three minutes of the game, and at 13:50 of the first period stretched its lead to 4-0.

This early setback proved too much for the Gophers.

âÄúIt took a little bit of the wind out of our sails,âÄù Minnesota defenseman Anne Schleper said of the two quick goals. âÄúWe didnâÄôt come ready to play in the first.âÄù

Boston College got on the board 24 seconds into the game when forward Ashley Motherwell took advantage of a puck misplayed by GophersâÄô goaltender Noora Räty.

Räty was attempting to stop the puck off the backboard, but it took a funny bounce and ended up on MotherwellâÄôs stick.

Barely two minutes later, the Eagles stuck again.

Melissa Bizzari capitalized on another Minnesota turnover and netted a goal at 2:45 in the first.

Following the second goal, head coach Brad Frost called a timeout, attempting to stop the bleeding.

It didnâÄôt.

Kelli Stack, a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award and a U.S. Olympian, got in on the scoring action, extending the lead with back-to-back goals to close out the first.

Although Minnesota (26-10-2, 18-8-2 WCHA) seemed to be facing imminent defeat, Schleper said the team never lost hope.

Sarah Erickson converted on a power play at 11:45 into the second period, beating Eagles goaltender Molly Schaus for the first time on the day.

It would be the only goal the Gophers would score.

âÄúWe were working on that second one there for a while there, we just couldnâÄôt get it in [the net],âÄù Schleper said. âÄúI donâÄôt think for a moment any of our players backed down.âÄù

This response to adversity has been a theme for Minnesota this year.

The Gophers started the season 6-5, and lost leading scorer from 2009-10 in Emily West early this year.

Still they managed to pull it together, winning 26 games on the season en route to a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Despite the loss, Frost said he is proud of his team and does not believe this game reflects their seasonâÄôs work.

âÄúWe started off 6-5 and I think our team could have gone in the tank and had a mediocre year,âÄù Frost said. âÄúThese guys really stuck together, leaned on each other and were able to finish second in the WCHA and make it to the NCAA tournament. Overall this team really overcame a lot of adversity and really is a great team.âÄù

This was the final game in the careers of GophersâÄô seniors Terra Rasmussen, Laura May and Jenny Lura. Rasmussen concluded her career playing in 149 games, tallying 33 points off of 19 goals and 14 assists. May played in 143 games scoring 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points. Lura played in 42 games between the pipes for Minnesota and boasts a career goals against average of 1.82.

Losing these three seniors will take a toll on the Gophers, but the future looks bright.

They have incoming freshmen recruits that Frost said will help in production, and return all but three members from the current roster, including injured Emily West.

âÄúI think the expectations for next season remain high,âÄù Frost said. âÄúOur goal with our program is to always try and win the WCHA regular season, the WCHA tournament, and get to the Frozen Four. I would expect us to have another great year and for our players to represent our program very well.âÄù