UTICA, NY – The Ephs traveled to New York Friday night for a non-conference contest against Utica College at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Pioneers, coming off a sweep over SUNY Cortland, were able to continue their winning streak with a 4-2 win, improving their record to 3-2 while Williams dropped to 1-2.
It was an even match up from the drop of the puck, and the Ephs carried a hefty shot on goal advantage throughout, posting a total of 39 shots to Utica's 29.
Both the Ephs and Pioneers saw opportunities on the powerplay throughout the first 20 minutes. The penalty kill units from both sides did a good job driving the puck out of the zone keeping the contest deadlocked at 0.
It looked as if the opening frame would conclude scoreless, but a Pioneer goal coming just before the buzzer sounded put Utica College up 1-0 headed into the first intermission.
Despite being outshot 14 to 8, the Pioneers were the first to take advantage of the multiple rebound opportunities seen throughout the evenly matched opening period.
"We came out really strong and outshot them 2-1. We just had an unlucky bounce and got scored on in the last seconds of the period. We definitely carried a lot of momentum though and were generating offensive chances," commented head coach Meghan Gillis.
Headed into the middle frame, the Ephs came out aggressively and created an early offensive onslaught, trying to steal the momentum. Jennifer Hamel (Ithaca, NY) proved to be a brick wall in between the pipes for Utica however, denying all Eph attempts.
The Pioneer offense then went to work once again, getting on the scoreboard for a second time at the 12:59 mark. Nicole Kieffer (Rome, NY) sent a nice cross pass to a wide open Emily Coope (Phoenix, AZ), who executed and put the puck past Billadeau. Victoria Pelton (Sterling Heights, MI) was also credited with an assist.
It was only a matter of time before the Ephs shot on goal advantage would pay off. With 1:04 to play in the period, Eliza Noyes (Concord, MA) set up Eph captain Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC), who made a nifty move before finding the back of the net and putting the Ephs within a goal.
Undeterred, the Pioneers responded just seconds after Bravi's goal, to extend their lead by two once again. At 19:11, Nicole Schwartz (Danville, CA) was set up by the tandem of Megan Myers (Las Vegas, NV) and Morgan Reed (Fort Myers, FL), giving her team a comfortable 3-1 lead at the close of the 2nd.
Williams still enjoyed a 13 shot advantage (28-15) skating into the locker room, and would look to convert on more of their chances headed into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
The Pioneers began to even out the shot disparity throughout the final period, getting off a series of shots before capitalizing again at the 8:13 mark. The 4th Pioneer goal of the night came from Meyers. She took the puck away at center ice and streaked past an Eph defender to set up a breakaway against Billadeau. With a nice finish she built Utica's lead to 4-1.
Williams refused to throw in the towel despite trailing by three late in the 3rd. A Utica penalty prompted Gillis to call a timeout at 6:15. The timeout served its purpose, as the Ephs came out firing and struck back right away.
Another 5-on-4 chance for Williams came shortly after Levine's goal. The Ephs kept the pressure on and generated some scoring chances, but the Utica defense was resilient and fought back to even strength while holding onto their 4-2 lead.
The Ephs would pull Billadeau with a little over a minute remaining, but they wouldn't have enough time to stage a comeback. The buzzer sounded with the score at 4-2 in favor of the Pioneers.
Despite the loss, Gillis was pleased with her team's performance, stating, "We pressed and played well. We just weren't able to find the back of the net, and they were able to capitalize on their chances."
Hamel stopped 35 of 37 shots that came her way on the night, while Billadeau posted 25 saves.
Next up for the Ephs is defending National Champion, Elmira. The puck drops tomorrow afternoon at 3pm at the Murray Athletic Center in Pine Valley, NY.