Feb. 26, 2010
Bellamy holding fort for Harvard
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
In a perfect world, teams would have two goaltenders of equal strength
so that if one were to get injured, the other could step in without
the squad missing a beat.
In the real world, when a No. 1 netminder is knocked out of the
lineup, it can often derail a season.
When Harvard senior Christina Kessler tore her anterior cruciate
ligament during practice last month, the Crimson had to soldier
on without the most successful goalie in the program’s history.
Kessler ended her collegiate career as Harvard’s leader in
victories (64) and shutouts (25). As a sophomore, she set the NCAA
season shutout record with 12, though that was surpassed by Wisconsin’s
Jessie Vetter, who had 14 last season.
Kessler also has an NCAA-best .9413 save percentage, just ahead
of Vetter’s .9407. Her last game was Jan. 16 in a 5-1 victory
The Crimson turned to unproven freshman Laura Bellamy, and she has
delivered. In 14 games heading into tonight’s best-of-three
ECAC quarterfinal against Princeton at Bright Center, Bellamy has
a record of 8-3-2, a 1.37 goals-against average, and a .938 save
“We’ve faced some adversity and we’ve come out
of it,’’ said Harvard coach Katey Stone. “I think
we’ve had a few slips but we’ve never fallen. That’s
one of the big keys.
“The worst part about it is we felt terrible for [Kessler].
She had just broken the record for all-time wins at Harvard and
then never got to play again. That was a bummer, but she’s
handled it tremendously well and been a great source of strength
for our players and you find a way to win games. You just figure
Bellamy had filled in when Kessler left to play in a tournament
in Germany after Christmas but she knew it was a temporary role.
“She played a couple of games, but it was never the same thing,’’
said Stone. “She knew [Kessler] was coming back. I think it
was an uneasy position to be in.
“And then all of a sudden, the reality was that [Kessler]
was finished. ‘I’ve got to step up here.’ She
knows she’s got to be prepared to go, and it’s a different
mind-set when you know, ‘Now it’s me.’ ’’
Although third-seeded Harvard hasn’t beaten sixth-seeded Princeton
in two tries this season - losing in overtime Nov. 14 and playing
to a tie Jan. 8 - Stone believes the Crimson have momentum heading
into the series.
“We all went into the season with high hopes, obviously, looking
to fill some pretty big holes and figure out a way to replace the
amount of goals scored by our seniors last year,’’ said
Stone. “We knew we would be a great defensive team with Kessler
in the back and some strong [defensemen].
“The best part about this group of kids, different than other
teams, is they just absorbed everything we told them and they tried
to do everything we told them. All of a sudden, we could see them
getting better on a daily basis, a weekly basis, and gaining momentum.
Before you know it, now we’re one of those teams in the hunt.’’