In its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Ohio State women’s hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four with a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over host Boston College on Saturday.
Lauren Boyle and Maddy Field had the Buckeyes’ goals, and goalie Kassidy Sauve withstood a BC barrage in the third period.
“Tears of joy and excitement, like, ‘Did this just actually happen?’” coach Nadine Muzerall said of her players’ emotions in the postgame locker room. “I said, ‘Yes it did, because you deserve it.’”
Ohio State will play in the semifinals next week in Minneapolis against top-seed Clarkson.
The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (24-10) dominated fourth-seeded Boston College (30-5) in the first two periods, outshooting the Eagles 32-15.
BC entered the game second among 35 Division I teams in scoring, averaging 4.19 goals.
“We attacked them,” Muzerall said. “We weren’t going to sit back on our heels and let them develop time and space. We, too, have some goal-scorers and some speed so we thought the best way was to get after them and get pucks past their D.”
The Buckeyes finally got rewarded midway through the second period when Boyle scored from the slot after passes from Julianna Iafallo and Dani Sadek.
BC put the Buckeyes on their heels in the third period, but Sauve made several clutch saves. She foiled a shot on a breakaway midway through the period to keep Ohio State ahead.
Sauve had missed the three previous games with a knee injury.
“I thought our defensive side of the game was great in the first and second periods, so in the third it was her turn to come up big and she did,” Muzerall said. “She was very poised. That’s why we’re grateful to have her in net, because under pressure she can handle anything. She came up clutch on that breakaway.”
With BC continuing to press, Maddy Field gave the Buckeyes breathing room by scoring with 4:17 left, pushing the puck past Eagles goalie Katie Burt. Iafallo had the assist.
Sauve made two more huge saves as BC made a desperate last push. She stopped a point-blank shot with a minute left and then made a toe save off a deflection seconds later. Boston College outshot OSU 23-9 in the final period.
BC advanced to the NCAA championship game two years ago. That year, Ohio State finished 10-25-1. The Buckeyes’ coach was then fired for NCAA violations, and Nadine Muzerall was hired just before the start of the 2016-17 season. Ohio State went 14-18-5 a year ago.
Now the Buckeyes are two games from the national championship.
“It’s been an upward climb but a good one,” Muzerall said. “We’re so humbled and just overjoyed. I have so much pride in these young women. They’ve worked so hard and have gone through a lot of things that most people don’t have to or don’t know about.
“It grew them strong. They played poised and they were absolutely relentless.”