Northeastern women’s hockey team will lean on nation’s best defense in Beanpot final by Ian Thomsen February 13, 2023 Share Mastodon Facebook LinkedIn Twitter The sixth-ranked Huskies are seeking their 18th Beanpot title at Boston College—the opponent that knocked them out of the tournament last year. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University They’ve been to the last two Frozen Fours, their front line features three of the NCAA’s top 11 scorers and their defense leads the nation. But the Women’s Beanpot final figures to be difficult for the Huskies, who are visiting an opponent—and the goalie—that knocked them out of last year’s event. No. 6 Northeastern (27-2-1) plays at No. 16 Boston College (18-12-1) for the championship at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (streaming on NESN+ and ESPN+). “It’s funny, when we’ve been the underdog in this tournament, we’ve been more successful than we’ve been the favorite,” says Northeastern coach Dave Flint, who is seeking to add to the Huskies’ record of 17 Women’s Beanpot titles. The Huskies are trying to earn their first Beanpot title since 2020. They’re also fighting to improve their national ranking, knowing that the top five teams receive a first-round bye and the top four benefit from a home-ice quarterfinal in the 11-team NCAA tournament next month. Northeastern advanced last week with a 4-1 semifinal win over Boston University. BC, the tournament host, beat Harvard 3-0 in the other semifinal. The Huskies arrive with a 15-game winning streak thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory Friday at Connecticut, where they twice overcame deficits before sophomore Tory Mariano scored in overtime. Winning a tough road game should help prepare them for this championship final at BC. One year ago the Huskies were hosting the Women’s Beanpot at Matthews Arena when they suffered a 3-1 semifinal upset to BC and hot goaltender Abigail Levy, who stopped them cold with 49 saves. Levy, a 6-foot-1-inch graduate student, has renewed that form while making 107 saves and allowing one goal over her last three games. “Their goalie can steal the game and they’ve been playing pretty well,” Flint says of the streaky Eagles, who have won their past four games (by a combined 12-1) on the heels of an equally long losing streak in January. “So it’s not going to be where we show up and they’re going to hand us the Beanpot. We’re going to have to really work for it.” It will be a showdown of the nation’s top goalies in terms of save percentage, with Levy (.949) trailing Northeastern senior Gwyneth Philips (.959). Philips also leads the nation with a 0.84 goals-against average; Levy ranks eighth at 1.68. If this turns into a low-scoring rematch then the Huskies will be leaning on junior Lily Yovetich, a crucial part of their astonishing rebuild on defense. For the past several years the Huskies were anchored by Aerin Frankel, the two-time national goalie of the year, and defenders Skylar Fontaine (a first-team All-American) and Brooke Hobson (team captain). Philips, who waited patiently for three years behind Frankel, has been dominant in the net. One of the defender spots has been claimed unsurprisingly by Megan Carter, a senior in biology who has earned the NCAA Elite 90 award for the highest grade point average at each of the past two Frozen Fours. Carter has been paired on the back line with Yovetich, a junior from Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, whose ascent has been inspiring. “I was bottom of the depth chart at the beginning of the year,” says Yovetich, who says she earned one shift in the Huskies’ first two Hockey East games against Connecticut in October. “I had to claw my way back.” Yovetich has emerged as a lock-down defender for the Huskies. “She’s so hard to play against, so aggressive,” Flint says of Yovetich. “She’s playing against other teams’ best players and shutting them down and it’s great to see. I’ve had coaches in our league this year who have come up to me after the game and said, ‘Sixteen (Yovetich’s jersey number), man, she’s playing so good.’” Yovetich has grown by taking on the daily practice challenge of opposing the Huskies’ top-scoring line of Alina Mueller (44 points), Chloé Aurard (44) and Maureen Murphy (42). “It’s such a huge honor—but also the greatest challenge ever,” Yovetich says. “I grew up thinking I want to go against the best because I want to be the absolute best that I can be.” Yovetich says she was originally recruited by Northeastern as a forward. She has responded to her defensive opportunity by zeroing in on it to the exclusion of all else. “She’s not going to bring offense to the table but we have other other defensemen that can do that,” Flint says. “If you know hockey, you watch her play during the game and you see all the little things she does and her attention to detail. She’s had a great year and she’s been just rock-solid defensively.” Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.