WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Looking to continue their winning streak, the Williams College Ephs had a challenge ahead of them Tuesday night, facing off against top ranked Plattsburgh State. The Cardinals entered tonight's game with a record of 11-0-1 and ranked number one in the USCHO.com poll. Despite a valiant effort, the Ephs were unable to curb the relentless Cardinal offense, falling 4-1.
It was a fast-paced, aggressive battle from the start with each offense stringing together scoring chances throughout, but it would be the visiting team who capitalized during the key moments.
The Cardinals struck first at the 4:39 mark thanks to a goal from senior forward Jenny Kistner (Peoria, IL). Caitlin Gilligan (Burlington, ON) sent the puck ahead to Kistner, who came down the right wing, cut middle to get by an Eph defender and went five-hole to give her team a slight advantage early in the contest.
Plattsburgh saw a chance to up their lead when an Eph penalty created a 5-on-4 opportunity with 8:02 remaining in the frame. The Cardinal offense peppered Eph goaltender Charlie Billadeau (Chaska, MN) with shots, but she remained stalwart between the pipes, keeping her team's deficit at 1.
Plattsburgh would finish the period out-shooting Williams 15 to 9, but only holding a slight 1-0 edge.
An eventful middle frame featured goals from both sides, the first of these registered by Plattsburgh 9:47 into the period. Cardinal forward Mel Ames (Rochester, NY) drilled the puck from the left side and found the back of the net just below the crossbar. She was aided by Katelyn Turk (Mississauga, ON).
Undeterred, the Ephs responded in a timely manner, taking advantage of a man-up situation. Senior co-captain Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) took a backhand shot from the right side that barely snuck past Sydney Aveson (West Covina, CA). Gabby Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) and Caitlin Conlon (Sudbury, MA) collected assists on the play. The powerplay goal cut Plattsburgh's lead in half with 8:35 remaining in the period.
The Cardinals regained their two-goal lead with 4:12 to go in the 2nd, when Alyssa Parke (Lynbrook, NY) notched a goal for the away team. Set up by the tandem of Ali Vakos (Hamden, CT) and Chelsea VanGlahn (Point Pleasant, NJ), Parke took a shot from the point and roofed it.
Plattsburgh skated into the second intermission with a comfortable 3-1 lead and a 32-18 shot advantage.
Building upon their offensive momentum, Plattsburgh registered their fourth goal of the night midway through the final period. After working the puck around the perimeter, Shannon Stewart (Pickering, ON) took a shot from the point. Billadeau blocked the attempt, but forward Jordan Caldwell (Denver, CO) was waiting in front of the net and punched the rebound in. Allison Era (Glendale, AR) was also credited with an assist.
The Caldwell goal would solidify the score at 4-1, earning Plattsburgh another win, while the Ephs fell to 5-6-0 on the season.
Despite the loss, head coach Meghan Gillis was pleased with her team's effort, commenting, "I thought at times we executed our systems well and communicated well and just competed with them. Obviously, they have a lot of depth, but I thought we stuck with it, which was great."
She also reflected on the value of playing such a strong team: "Anytime you play a tough team, you have to do everything quicker and faster because they're on you, so hopefully that will translate into the games this weekend."
Gillis and the Ephs face NESCAC opponent Hamilton in a crucial mini series this weekend. Williams will travel to Hamilton for the conference match up, the first of the two games being Friday night at 7pm.