Rachel Llanes netted in regulation and again in a shootout, and Brittany Esposito notched the shootout winner as No. 7 Northeastern (17-6-3, 11-3-2 WHEA) bested No. 4 Boston College in the Beanpot semifinal at Walter Brown Arena.
Senior Florence Schelling was outstanding between the pipes for the Huskies, registering 35 saves and two denials in the shootout.
Llanes, who opened the scoring midway through the second period on a rebound of sophomore Katie MacSorley's effort, took advantage of Schelling's save on Mary Restuccia to begin the shootout by firing past Boyles for the second time on the evening. After Schelling then stoned Blake Bolden to put the Eagles on the brink of elimination, Esposito put the Huskies through to the final with a sensational deke past Boyles.
The teams first took the ice after a 20-minute delay to fix the ice surface cast doubt on whether the game would be played at all. Schelling denied early attempts from Taylor Wasylk and Alex Carpenter, but BC retained control of the early tempo and drew a bodychecking penalty on senior tri-captain Stephanie Gavronsky.
The nation's best penalty kill was having a relatively easy time until Dru Burns' tripping minor put the sides at four-on-four and gave the Huskies 90 seconds of power play time. MacSorley and sophomore Maggie DiMasi launched shots of their own, but Corinne Boyles was up to the task as the teams returned to even strength.
Northeastern gradually eased itself into the flow of the game and enjoyed an 11-6 shots advantage when BC went back on the power play with 4:45 to go in the period. Ashley Motherwell led a two-on-one with only freshman Ann Doherty back in defense, but her pass across the slot was too long for Emily Field in part due to a hooking infraction from a backchecking MacSorley. The Eagles set up shop in the NU zone once again but were summarily denied by a strong Huskies kill until MacSorley returned to even things up.
Schelling was tested from distance late in the period and made several fine saves on Blake Bolden and Melissa Bizzari. Quality chances, however, were few and far between as the period ended with Northeastern at a 13-10 edge in shots amidst the goalless deadlock.
The Huskies came out flying in the opening minutes of the middle frame, getting shots much closer on goal than they had in the first, but the Eagles once again took the best chance of the exchange when Carpenter broke in behind the defense from the left side. The freshman standout lost her edge swooping towards goal, however, and Schelling went untested.
Northeastern went back on the power play soon afterwards as Bizzari dragged down a Husky in the neutral zone for interference at 6:18. Once again, however, the chances were few as both penalty kills began to put their stamp on proceedings.
BC took yet another chance at the far end of Walter Brown Arena when Field fired a dangerous cross in front of net, but with Schelling out of position and the goal at her mercy, Motherwell couldn't quite tee it up and put her shot wide.
With the Huskies having trouble getting in on net all period, they finally broke the deadlock doing just that. MacSorley gained space wide to Boyles' right and fired a wrist shot on goal; Boyles put pad to it but gave up a healthy rebound to the weak side, where junior Rachel Llanes was driving hard to the cage, flicking her one-time effort up and over Boyles' blocker to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead at 11:29. It was the third consecutive time Northeastern had scored the game's first goal against Boston College.
Llanes has been steadily climbing up the team's point standings, with a point in three of her last four and six of her last nine games.
And in keeping with the first two leads Northeastern had taken against BC, the Eagles would equalize in short order. The BC goal played out much like the Northeastern's marker had minutes earlier, with hard forechecking from Field paying off after Schelling denied Motherwell's effort from the right wing. Field buried the rebound in Llanes-like fashion to even the score at 17:53.
The gritty, defensive battle entered the third period with neither side seeming willing to yield a quality chance. BC was again first on the front foot as Carpenter sauntered in from the left corner, but Schelling held strong to her post to snuff out the opportunity. Seconds later it was freshman Kendall Coyne with a backhand opportunity in front, but Boyles was wise to it as the teams remained on level terms.
Field went to the box for hooking at 7:32 of the third, but for a fifth time in the game a power play failed to truly generate a solid chance - this time it was the BC power play holding the fort. The Huskies then followed suit after Schelling made repeated stalwart saves on a delayed holding the stick penalty to freshman Colleen Murphy; the ensuing BC power play at 11:01 saw more of the play in the Eagles' zone than the Huskies'.
With the play at even strength, the defensive struggle continued as the minutes wound down, but with 2:33 to play the teams went to four-on-four. First Wasylk bodychecked Gavronsky, and during Northeastern's delayed penalty offensive, Gavronsky returned the favor with a charging infraction to open up the ice in the game's final minutes.
Regulation's closing seconds were a whirlwind of open-ice forays as both sides scrambled for a winner, but in keeping with the rest of the affair, neither side could garner that golden goal as the game went to overtime.
In overtime, Northeastern got the jump on the Eagles as Coyne quickly set up Pickett in the slot, but her shot went straight into the butterfly of Boyles. Seconds later it was Coyne attempting to jam one in at Boyles' left post, but after a review it was determined that the puck had not crossed the line.
BC then nearly ended things with a sucker punch after most of overtime had taken place in its defensive zone. Carpenter blazed through the neutral zone and after some dangling had gone clean through the Northeastern defense - her wrist shot beat Schelling, but the post denied the BC freshman as the final seconds of overtime wound down. Overtime would end with the teams still entrenched in a 1-1 draw, and with a winner need to determine next week's finalist, the game entered a shootout.
First up for Boston College was Restuccia, who dribbled in slowly on Schelling before deking quickly to her left. Schelling saw it all the way to start the Huskies off on the right foot. Northeastern would take advantage through its goalscorer Llanes, who eschewed a deke and wristed one past Boyles.
Bolden stepped forward for the Eagles then and was smoothly denied by the outstanding Schelling, who made 35 saves plus two stops in the shootout.
Coach Dave Flint left it to Esposito for the clincher. The Edmonton, Alberta native went straight on at Boyles, deking one way and the next before abruptly stopping her momentum and swinging the puck around to Boyles' right. By then the BC netminder had already committed herself and gone to the ice, and Esposito coolly slotted home from a tight angle and sprinted back up ice to be mobbed by her teammates.
Northeastern enters the Beanpot final for the second time in two years, in search of its first title since 1998. With 14 Women's Beanpot championships, no school has won as many Beanpots as Northeastern. Harvard runs second with 13.
Northeastern will return to league play at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, welcoming the Connecticut Huskies to Matthews Arena. NU will then face the winner of tonight's other semifinal between No. 8 Harvard and host Boston University.
Rachel Llanes crashes the net and pots the first goal of the game
Emily Field backhands in a rebound to tie the game 1-1