CASTLETON, VT – After outshooting and outskating the Spartans for 60 minutes of regulation, the Ephs dropped a heartbreaker on the road Sunday night. Castleton's Jessica Spidle (Smithtown, NY) scored with 2:45 remaining in overtime to edge past Williams College, 3-2.
A tremendous goal from senior co-captain Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) in the 2nd and a game-tier from Emily Krueger (Manasquan, NJ) late in the 3rd were not enough for an Eph victory. Despite generating numerous offensive opportunities, Castleton goaltender Paula Stephens (Seattle, WA) stood strong between the pipes and fought off 45 attempts to keep her team in contention.
Castleton got on the board first after just over four minutes of play with a goal coming from Michelle Baillargeon (Clayton, ONT). Hannah Wright (Arlington, MA) took the initial shot, which was blocked by Eph netminder Rachel Nguyen (Hermosa Beach, CA) and punched in by Baillargeon. She was just able to get a stick on it to find the back of the net and give the Spartans a 1-0 edge.
The first penalty coming at 7:57 was called on the Ephs, but it did not prevent them from generating offensive momentum. Playing shorthanded, Williams was able to knot up the game thanks to a great individual effort from senior forward Bravi. Bravi worked the puck along the boards and showed a lot of strength as she fought off a defender to get an initial shot off. With the puck lying to the right of the key, she cut back and lifted it up just enough to put her own rebound past Stephens. The unassisted equalizer came at the 8:52 mark.
While the opening 20 minutes came to a close with the contest even at 1 apiece, it was the Ephs who were creating the majority of the offensive opportunities. Stephens turned away shot after shot to keep her team in it, coming up with an impressive 13 saves. Nguyen was tested six times throughout the frame.
The home team would steal back their lead after eight minutes of play in the middle frame. Set up by a breakout pass from Lisa Kilroy, Brie Narodowy collected the puck at the blue line and went up high over the glove side of Nguyen to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead. Castleton would hang onto their 2-1 advantage until the final frame.
Williams then saw nearly four minutes of consecutive powerplay after back-to-back Spartan penalties. Peppering the Spartan keeper with a flurry of shots, it was only a matter of time before one got by Stephens. It was Krueger who cashed in on the powerplay chance. She buried a rebound off of a shot by teammate Gwendolyn Schultz (Wallingford, CT) to knot the battle up at 2-2.
Krueger's tally sent the game into overtime, and it looked as if Williams would build upon their momentum, as they kept the pressure on Stephens and the Castleton defense. A fluttering puck sent in from outside the blue line by Spidle however, would allow the Spartans to escape with the victory. Baillargeon was awarded an assist on the game-winner.
Despite the heartbreaking final result, head coach Meghan Gillis stated, "We're continually working on playing a full 60 minutes, and today was our best effort."
Nguyen notched 20 saves on 23 Spartan attempts, while Stephens withstood the Eph barrage to make 45 saves on 47 shots.
The Ephs will put this loss behind them, as they travel to Sacred Heart this Friday. The puck drops at 7pm.