Ephs and Continentals battle to 4-4 tie

Charlie Billadeau '15
Charlie Billadeau '15

CLINTON, NY -- The Williams Women's Hockey team (5-6-1) held the lead until late in the game when back-to-back Continental goals put them in the position to earn their first NESCAC victory of the season. A critical game-tier from senior co-captain Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) sent the game into extra minutes, where neither side could notch the game-winner.

It was an important NESCAC match up at Russell Sage Rink, as 3rd ranked (NESCAC) Williams looked to continue their in-conference success against 9th ranked (NESCAC) Hamilton. Williams remains tied with Bowdoin in the standings, behind Amherst and Middlebury.

The high scoring thriller opened with much back-and-forth play and remained deadlocked at 0 for nearly 19 minutes. The Ephs struck first, getting on the board with 1:13 remaining in the first period. Hanna Beattie (Whitehouse Station, NJ) took a shot from the point, which senior co-captain Gabby Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) tipped pack Hamilton goaltender Sara Schuchardt (Verona, WI). Caitlin Conlon (Sudbury, MA) also collected an assist on the play.

Building off the Vukasin goal, the offensive line of Andree Heller (Toronto, ON), Perry McCarthy (Princeton, NJ) and Natalie Bernstein (Kenilworth, IL) created a second goal scoring opportunity. McCarthy won a battle in the slot and slid the puck to Bernstein, who scored backdoor to extend the Eph lead to 2-0. The tally came at the 5:52 mark.

The Continentals pushed back, cutting Williams' lead in half on a powerplay goal at 13:02. Gigi Fraser (Birmingham, MI) sent it home just over the glove of Eph netminder Charlie Billadeau (Chaska, MN) off a pass from teammate Sara Taffe (Maple Grove, MN). 

The 2nd would close with much back and forth action, each side posting six shots on goal during the middle frame. 

Hamilton evened things out with 15:42 remaining in regulation when Megan Ahern (Oswego, NY) took a slap shot that found it's way over Billadeau's right shoulder. Ianthe Lekometros (Teaneck, NJ) collected the assist on the tying goal. 

Williams regained their lead with 8:58 to go thanks to a critical unassisted goal from freshman defender Beattie. She took a shot from the top and found the back of the net to give Williams a 3-2 edge.

The Hamilton offense wasted no time in responding however, and it became clear that the Continentals would refuse to go away quietly. A minute after Beattie's goal, Megan Fitzgerald (Great Falls, VA), aided by the tandem of Teal Gosselin (Franklin, MA) and Stephanie Lang (Ann Arbor, MI), sent the puck over Billadeau's head. 

The home team then took their first lead of the night with 4:19 remaining, converting on another powerplay opportunity. Hannah Barlett (Marshfield, MA) netted her first score of the evening off assists from Fraser and Taffe to steal a 4-3 lead.

Clawing to send the game into extra minutes, the Ephs scored with a little over a minute in regulation just as Billadeau left the goal to give Williams an extra skater. Emily Krueger (Manasquan, NJ) forechecked hard with Michaela Levine (Lititz, PA), who got the puck from a Continental defender and slid it to Bravi in the slot. Bravi took a quick release shot top corner to knot up the battle at 4.

Neither team could break the tie in the overtime period, as Schuchardt stopped the lone shot she faced from the Ephs and Billadeau denied three Continental shots on goal. 

Both goaltenders put forth admirable efforts between the pipes, turning away 19 shots apiece.

Williams has a chance to collect another conference victory tomorrow when they face off against the Continentals again. Head coach Meghan Gillis looks forward to improving on tonight's game headed into tomorrow: "We just need to be more disciplined on the penalty kill and then early on in the game, bear down on our chances. Hamilton forechecked us hard today in our zone and made us work to break the puck out, so we're going to focus on making better passes and doing a better job supporting the puck."