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Another spot in the Beanpot women’s hockey championship game hung in the balance, as Harvard and Northeastern skated through an overtime session tied at 3-3.
In the decisive shootout, lifetime Pearl River resident Josephine Pucci, an established and well-experienced player even before attending Harvard, was the fourth shooter for the Crimson after each team had scored one goal, keeping the deadlock intact.
“It was exciting,” Pucci, a sophomore defender, told me one day later. “At this level (Division I), you face so many pressure situations I just took it as any other shot. I was very excited to take the shot. I went to the backhand, and scored into the top right-hand corner on a deke. Then our goalie (Laura Bellamy) made the final save.”
The 4-3 victory advanced defending Beanpot champion Harvard into the title game Tuesday night against Boston College at Kelley Rink in Chestnut Hill.
Harvard claimed its 13th title last year by blanking Boston College in the semifinals, then defeating Northeastern in the 33rd annual Beanpot Championship game.
Besides repeating, Harvard has an added incentive against Boston College this time around, as the Eagles defeated the visiting Crimson 6-2 earlier in the season. (BC advanced to the title game by edging No. 3 Boston University, 2-1.)
“We want to bring the Beanpot back,” Pucci said. “We’re looking to get another one.”
Pucci, who first learned the game through her dad, Victor--a travel team coach who now helps with the Connecticut Polar Bears—skated with the all-boys Ramapo Saints until the eighth grade. She also represented Hudson Valley one summer at the Empire State Games, playing on a team with her younger sisters Victoria and Samantha.
While Josephine attended Choate Rosemary Hall, and captained the mid-Fairfield Connecticut Stars, her sisters attend the Canterbury School in Connecticut; Victoria, a junior, skates on a U-16 travel team, and Samantha, a senior, skates on a U-19 travel team.
“To play at a high level, a competitive level, you look to a Connecticut prep school,” Pucci said, noting that her dad and her mom, Ursula, are big fans and try to attend as many games as possible.
In the semifinal game against Northeastern, the Crimson fought back from a 3-0 deficit.
Pucci laughed when asked if her major course of studies in social and cognitive neuroscience helped her stay cool, calm and collected. But playing at the DI level is no laughing matter.
“It’s definitely a lot of dedication, for sure, but it has its rewards and it’s a lot of fun,” Pucci said. “I had the chance to play with the U.S. team, and every day, every practice I’m learning more and more. I’ve also developed good friendships with teammates; the coaches are great. It’s a good blend of academics and athletics.”
Harvard’s head coach Katey Stone, incidentally, is merely the winningest coach in the history of Division I women’s hockey, with 339 victories.
A few more, one can be certain, are in store. Prior to the Beanpot final, the Crimson (13-8-3, 12-4-2) has ECAC contests on tap tonight at Clarkson and tomorrow at St. Lawrence.
Another McNair milestone
Michael McNair of Valley Cottage, a 1,000-point scorer at Nyack High, surpassed 1,000 points again in leading the high-flying Panthers of Purchase College past the College of Mount Saint Vincent, 86-61.
McNair, a senior guard for Coach Jeff Charney, joined teammate and senior forward Marvin Billups in the rarified air with a game-high 18 points against the Dolphins.
Needing just 11 points to reach the milestone, McNair said he let the game come to him, and completed a fine all-around effort with four steals and three assists.
“I had a pretty good game,” understated McNair, who has had a few other “pretty good games” in an illustrious career that he hopes to extend by playing overseas.
“The game came to me, and I needed to score. I’ve been playing well, yeah, everything right now is coming together,” he said. “As long as we keep winning, that’s all I care about.”
The Panthers are 17-4 overall and 13-3 in the Skyline Conference, in which they are the defending champion.
McNair, whose sister Rachel McNair reached 1,000 points at Nyack High earlier this season, has a nephew, Terrence McNair, who hopes to reach that plateau at St. Joseph’s in Montvale.
“My uncle helps me a lot,” said the sophomore forward. “He gives me advice, not just on the court but in life. I’m looking forward to getting 1,000, in my senior year.”
Michael has competed with several players who became pros overseas, including his brother Gerry, a New City resident who once performed in Australia. Michael also believes that former Mount Vernon High standout Mookie Jones, now at Syracuse, will one day play professionally.
“He’s on a bigger stage, it’s a plus for him,” said McNair, who has a firm belief in his own ability.
“I know I can play (overseas), I just want an opportunity,” he said.
The opportunity will keep coming as the Panthers move forward, beginning Saturday afternoon when they host SUNY at Old Westbury at 3 p.m.
Record-setting effort by Bateman
Freshman Keeley Bateman of Pearl River established a St. Thomas Aquinas College school record in the mile with a 5:30 clocking at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the Armory in Washington Heights.
It was a major national meet that attracted LSU, which won with 97 points, runner-up Texas A&M and third-place finisher Duke—along with such powers as Arkansas, Baylor, BYU, Columbia, Texas and Villanova.
“It was a big deal, a big meet,” said Coach Lou Maturo. “It was a big-time atmosphere, and it did not bother her (Bateman.) She’s doing great, but still getting adjusted to everything. She has a lot of potential. Next year she’ll be a year in, will know the training, and it will be a better yardstick.”
Maturo said the meet at the Armory drew not only major NCAA powerhouses, but professionals representing such clubs as Nike, New Balance, Brooks and Reebok, as well as unattached qualifiers, and members of the Central Park Track Club and Zenith Velocity TC.
- The Northeastern University men’s hockey team hasn’t won the Beanpot championship since 1988, but the Huskies get another opportunity Monday night against Boston College at TD Garden. Twin brothers Justin and Drew Daniels of Suffern, who helped the Huskies blank Harvard 4-0 in the first round of the Beanpot, will also be in action tonight (Feb. 11) at Lowell.
- The Rockland CC women’s basketball team visits Westchester CC tomorrow (Feb. 12) at noon.
- The Fordham University men’s track and field team, including sophomore sprinter Mike Bongiorno of New City, returns to action today and tomorrow at the Valentine’s Day Classic, hosted by Boston University.
- Sophomore defenseman James McManus of Pearl River turned offensive as the Maritime hockey team blasted Stevens Institute of Technology, 8-1. The Pioneers improved to 15-8 overall, and 12-2 in the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference as McManus scored two goals—one on the power play—and added an assist. Maritime closes its regular season tonight at 7:15 against St. Thomas Aquinas College at the Palisades Center Ice Rink in West Nyack.
- Track standout Mike Abelard of Spring Valley and Ramapo High, and basketball veteran Theresa Dowling of Congers and Clarkstown North were named athletes of the month for January at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Abelard clocked an NCAA Division II qualifying mark of 21.85 in the 200-meter dash at the Terrier Classic in Boston, finishing sixth among 120 competitors. Dowling, who has helped the Spartans to a 17-6 record, had 10 3-pointers, 10 assists and 10 steals. The Lady Spartans, who lost in overtime to visiting Molloy Wednesday night, are home again Saturday at 1 p.m. against Dowling. The men’s team completes a doubleheader with a game at 3 p.m., also against Dowling.
- The Dominican College men’s basketball team (13-10, 9-4 CACC) hosts Chestnut Hill College Saturday at 3 p.m. in the 24th annual Bobby Mulligan Game. Bobby Mulligan was a member of men’s basketball team when he tragically passed away on August 30, 1987. Prior to the start of his senior year, Mulligan had amassed 912 career points and would have assuredly reached the 1,000 point mark.
- Taylor Wilson of Pearl River, a sophomore guard at Manhattanville College, powered the Valiants to a 76-39 victory over FDU-Florham in Madison, N.J. Wilson had 13 points to lead a parade of 10 players in the scoring column as the Valiants lifted their record to 14-8 overall, 7-4 in the Freedom Conference. Sophomore forward Jennifer McSharar of Garnerville had nine points and seven rebounds. Manhattanville hosts Eastern University tomorrow (Feb. 12) at 1 p.m.