Ottawa, ON – How things can change in just three weeks.
On Oct. 29, the Carleton Ravens dropped a 4-1 decision on the second half of a back-to-back to the Ottawa Gee-Gees to fall to 0-4-0 early in the 2022-2023 season. Yet post-game, head coach Stacey Colarossi was not upset; instead, she emphasized the process of building a winning program. That the effort was there for her side, and success would come as the team continued to develop their structure and system.
On Sunday, as Carleton took down the McGill Martlets 4-3 to win their second straight game and fourth in their last six, in a way, the process was starting to bear signs of success.
At the same time, though, in a game that saw the Ravens both go down early and have to hang on late, they learned another lesson on how success is one part of the process; finding ways to make success sustainable is another level.
The Martlets entered the Ice House on Sunday during a miserable start to their 2022-2022 campaign. A 3-2 overtime loss to Bishop’s on Friday night gave them a point, but at 0-7-1 entering Sunday, McGill found themselves in an unfathomable place for a program that just a season ago was the RSEQ Finalist.
On the other side, the Ravens, coming off a tight 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Thursday night, found themselves with a chance to pick up back-to-back wins for the second time this season.
It was McGill who broke the deadlock first as just under four minutes in, a sloppy pass from the Ravens in the offensive zone bounced around until it found Stephanie Keeper, who sprung Christina Colizza, who roofed a shot past Marie Eve-Cote to make it 1-0 for McGill.
The Ravens’ struggles on the forecheck were a noticeable issue on the afternoon. “When we don’t have a good F1, no matter where we are on the ice, it’s hard to filter in behind, and people don’t get to their spots.” Stacey Colarossi said.
Later in the period, the Ravens found themselves on the power play where Rhys Cole-Ashbury walked off the blueline and fired a seeing-eye shot through a crowd to beat Sophie Lajeunesse and make it 1-1, where it stayed after the first period.
Midway through the second, the blueline chipped in for Carleton again as Nicole Hunter found a lot of space coming into the slot and wired a shot past Lajeunesse to make it 2-1 for the Ravens.
For their coach, though, to battle back to get the lead doesn’t excuse a poor start.
“It’s great that we could battle back from that, and we had the character in the room to do that today but showing up on time and being ready to start the game is really important,” Colarossi said.
The Ravens tacked on another goal late in the period when Jacqueline Grosso’s shot got kicked out by Lajeunesse but landed perfectly on the stick of Annika Scurfield to make it 3-1 Carleton after two periods.
Into the third, the Martlets began to up the pressure and just under eight minutes in, Quynn Campbell snuck the puck past Cote to cut it to a one-goal game at 3-2.
With two minutes to go, Nicole Hunter picked up her second of the game into the empty net to make it 4-2 for Carleton, but after pressure in the Ravens zone with the extra attacker, Lydia Maclellan slipped it by Cote to make it 4-3 game with 15 seconds to play.
After giving a goal in the final 90 seconds against the Gee-Gees to cut that game to 2-1 (which Carleton held on for), it was another test of the Ravens’ ability to will a game over the line.
“Just gotta shake it off quick, have a short-term memory, we still gotta finish the game strong,” Nicole Hunter said.
Ultimately, the Martlets couldn’t muster any additional pressure after a timeout, and when the horn sounded, Carleton had their fourth win in six games, and McGill had fallen to 0-8-1 on the season.
For a coach of a team that ended the weekend with a pair of wins to put them at 4-5-1 and 4-1-1 on in November, Colarossi was disappointed in the fundamentals of the Ravens on Sunday.
“We were very disorganized, and we didn’t play within our structure today, so we were lucky to come out with the two points,” Colarossi said.
Still, the season rolls on, and Carleton heads to Ed Meagher arena in Montréal next week for a rematch with Concordia after their upset 4-3 win on Nov 5. Another win over the Stingers would put U SPORTS on notice, but the Ravens are not looking that far ahead.
“You can’t look ahead; you have to just focus on the next game and our preparation through the week and make sure we’re taking care of that,” Colarossi said.
“Stick with the process; we have to do what’s gotten us here,”