O’Neill latest to break out
Early as it still is in her season, and her Division-I career altogether, it is tough to give Providence College forward Jean O’Neill a “late bloomer” label. Although, compared to, say, such fellow rookies as Alyse Ruff (9 goals) and Amber Yung (7 assists and 8 points), she is.
Appearing in every game so far this season, the former Conestoga High School standout and Princeton Tiger Lily sprinkled an assist during the opening week of action and later potted two heart-and-grit goals over the Friars’ first home stretch. But over this past weekend against Maine, O’Neill, affixed with the scoring beacon Ruff and yet another rookie Jackie Duncan on the second line, doubled her point total, racking up a goal-assist package Saturday and pitching in a helper late Sunday.
Beforehand, O’Neill’s sparsely collected statistical highlights were the product of her nosing past the back-checkers (i.e., the fourth goal in an earthquake 5-4 home loss to Northeastern) or the old Ryan Smith strategy of perching herself before the goalie (her tip of Erin Normore’s offering against Dartmouth).
Lately, though, the Friars have all looked touch different what with two uplifting post-Thanksgiving wins and their ability to safely preserve the newfound momentum of five solid days of practice ice before the Black Bears’ visit. O’Neill proved to be no exception; perhaps even the epitome of the team’s collective pivot.
During the second period of Saturday’s 7-2 blowout, wherein PC broke away from a 1-0 to 4-1 edge, O’Neill pitched in on two of the connections through tireless, roadrunner-paced executions.
First, though abysmally late returning to the bench on a line change, she singlehandedly hunted down a fugitive puck in Maine’s breakout area and heaved it to Yung at the far point. O’Neill then crashed the net in anticipation of a rebound and had enough juice to tap the puck through goaltender Genevieve Turgeon before Katy Beach polished the job off.
On her next shift, O’Neill hung back on a two-on-one break with Ruff, reading the play well enough to invite a wide, wildly rolling rebound as it approached her along the far boards. At first unable to handle it, she startlingly crashed Maine’s routine breakout attempt, stepped forward a few paces, and inserted a low wrister for the goal.
Quick Feeds: For the second time in three games, a dozen Friars had at least one point in Saturday’s game. Six of them (Katy Beach, Rachel Crissy, Cherie Hendrickson, Jenna Keilch, Erin Normore, Brittany Simpson) preserved scoring streaks in doing so…One of those who did not chalk up any points in that game (before her two goals Sunday) was Kathleen Smith, though she had a whole other highlight within seconds of first hitting the ice Saturday. In the midst of a leisurely lap during the warm-up period, Smith’s stick got entangled in the baliseauto.com banner on the dasherboard in from of the PC bench, tearing off the middle of it…Smith’s two-goal package in the latter Maine game was her second such performance this season and nudged her back to the top of the Friars scoring chart. Four associates are tied for second with nine points…For one shift during the third period, already up 4-0, Friars coach Bob Deraney gave Duncan an extra breather by placing sophomore Pamela McDevitt between Ruff and O’Neill…The second period of Sunday’s game was the first penalty-free frame the Friars and the given opposition have composed this season. On top of that, only one goal, courtesy of Sarah Feldman, was logged on the scoresheet, and a comparatively slim shooting gallery of 11-5, PC, took place.