Denfeld News

Feb. 26, 2010
The Boston Globe

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 over Colgate.

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 percentage.

“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 it out.’’

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.’’

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