WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Third year Eph head coach Meghan Gillis guided the Ephs (15-9-3) to a third place finish in the NESCAC regular season and then to the program's first NESCAC Championship on Sunday defeating Bowdoin 4-1 in Lansing Chapman Rink.
Playing in just their second NESCAC title tilt, the Ephs scored in the first minute and opened up a 3-0 lead and never looked back in downing Bowdoin to secure the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as champions of the NESCAC.
"I am so proud of the team and all they have accomplished thus far," said Gillis. "The win yesterday was a special moment for Williams hockey history and I am honored to be a part of that. The team shows up each day at practice focused and ready to compete. They brought that same energy this weekend to the rink and were rewarded for their efforts. It is a special group and I am really happy for them."
Winning the NESCAC title boosted the Ephs into the USCHO.com national top ten, where they are ranked 10th. The Ephs are ranked 9th in the D#Hockey.com poll. Plattsburgh State (25-1-1), ranked #1 in both national polls, defeated the Ephs 4-1 in Lansing Chapman Rink on January 14, is the unanimous choice as the nation's top team, garnering all 15 first place votes.
"We travel to play a tough opponent in Plattsburgh on Saturday and are excited about the NCAA bid," Gillis said. "It is amazing to see the program return to the NCAA's. We played Plattsburgh in January here and were impressed by their depth."
The Plattsburgh State Cardinals average 4.97 goals a game and they've allowed just 16 goals in 27 games for an average of 0.59 per contest.
The Ephs will be making their second appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament having debuted in 2003 when they secured an At-Large bid. Williams was defeated in that initial NCAA Tournament contest by Manhattanville College 5-1.
Williams is the lone NESCAC team in the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament.
Eph senior forward Cristina Bravi was named the NESCAC Player of the Year and a member of the First Team. Joining Bravi on the First Team was freshman defenseman Hanna Beattie who also collected the NESCAC Rookie of the Year award.
Through 27 games Bravi has scored 20 goals and assisted on 20 more. Beattie has tallied 14 goals and assisted on 18.
|Gabby Vukasin '14|
The Williams roster has just two seniors in captains, Cristina Bravi and Gabrielle Vukasin. Twelve Ephs have played in all 27 games and 15 players overall have played in at least 25 contests. "Gabby and Bravi have been tremendous captains and helped to transform this program over the last three years," Gillis stated. "The other players respect these two seniors and are motivated each day at practice by the effort they bring."
The 21-member Eph team is comprised of two seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores, and seven freshmen
Williams' 15 wins this season is the most wins the Ephs have recorded since 2004 when they finished 15-10-0 under Neil Sinclair.
When Gillis was named head coach of the Ephs she was the program's 4th head coach in four years and she took over a team that won just 4 games the previous season. Additionally, hired in May Gillis had no opportunity to recruit for her first season.
Ten years to the day after being named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year as a standout at Bowdoin, where she was a teammate of current Bowdoin head coach Marissa O'Neill, Meghan Gillis was named the 2014 NESCAC Coach of the Year for leading Williams to a 12-9-3 regular season mark.
Meghan Gillis was a 3-time All-NESCAC selection and earned All-America honors once at Bowdoin. She graduated as Bowdoin's 3rd all-time leading scorer with 154 points.