WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The Williams College Ephs (8-10-3) lost a hard fought battle tonight against the Middlebury Panthers (17-2-3), 2-1. After junior Eliza Noyes (Concord, MA) tied up the game for Williams at 7:31 in the third period, Middlebury responded with a 5 on 3 goal two minutes later by freshman Maddie Winslow (Manchester, VT) to go up 2-1. Williams will face off against Middlebury again tomorrow night in Vermont.
The Panthers benefitted from a bouncing puck to take the lead at 3:20 in the first period. Freshman Jessica Young (Mission Hills, Kan.) batted a bouncing puck over Williams goalie Christina Cleroux's (New Glascow, NS) head to go up 1-0.
Williams played strong defense, working well as a unit of six to kill a penalty at 11:29 in the first frame, and again at 16:16. Midway through the second penalty of the period, junior Katie Mandingo (Cornwall, VT) skated up the left wing and took a shot form the point, but Cleroux had good rebound control to get the penalty kill.
The Ephs continued their strong defensive play at the beginning of the second period. Two minutes in, senior Caitlin Conlon (Sudbury, MA) made a great block with her skate to deflect the puck from in front of the Williams net.
Williams had a power play opportunity at 5:51 and put pressure on Middlebury, but was unable to convert a goal.
At 15:50 Middlebury went on the power play again, but the Ephs continued their strong defensive play to keep it a one goal game. Both sophomore Chelsey Stevenson (Tilbury, Ont) and freshman Kearan Burke (Shresbury, MA) made blocks off Middlebury slap shots.
At 18:05, Williams had a scoring opportunity when senior Samantha Cutts (Kittery Point, ME) took a shot from the point and rushed the net, but senior goalie Annabelle Jones (Homer, NY) fell on the puck before Williams could take another shot.
With 30 seconds left in the period, Williams received a penalty but held off the Panthers. The Ephs skated to the locker room one goal behind their NESCAC opponent.
Head coach Meghan Gillis commented, "We did a great job on the penalty kill tonight, and Cleroux played a great game."
Williams gained momentum when they killed their 4th penalty of the night at the beginning of the final period. Then, at 7:31, Noyes scored a goal to even the score at 1-1. Senior Andree Heller (Toronto, Ont) passed the puck to sophomore Hanna Beattie (Whitehouse Station, NJ) who took a shot from the left point. Jones sent the rebound out to Noyes, who backhanded the puck into the net.
Williams received two consecutive penalties - at 8:36 and 8:45 - and Winslow scored to go up 2-1 against the Ephs at 9:12.
Williams went on the power play at 11:28 and 15:07, but Middlebury played solid defense and the Ephs couldn't capitalize on the one man advantage. Sophomore Emily Krueger (Manasquan, NJ) took a good shot after skating up the left wing from the Williams blue line, but Jones covered the puck with her glove before Krueger could get a second look.
"We improved with every period tonight, but needed to convert on the power play. We are looking to build off our third period tonight for our game against Middlebury tomorrow," reflected coach Gillis.
Cleroux made a total of 23 saves tonight, while Jones made 18.
The Ephs will play Middlebury tomorrow night at 7pm.