WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- After clinching the program's first NESCAC championship in the 2013-14 season, the Ephs couldn't quite defend their conference championship, losing to Trinity in a close 1-0 quarterfinal game. The Bantams later went on to defeat top seeded Middlebury in overtime in the championship game to take their program's first NESCAC championship.
"Coming off the 2014 NESCAC championship, we set the bar high for ourselves." Eph head coach Meghan Gillis said. "We are in a competitive league that has seen four different NESCAC champions in the last four years. Last season, we were in many close, one goal games that we did not end up on the winning side of, but I believe our strong core of returners has us in the right mindset for this season."
Junior defender and captain Hanna Beattie finished her second year as an Eph with her second First Team All-NESCAC and was also named All-New England DII-III by New England Hockey Writers and Coaches.
The Ephs finished the 2014-2015 regular season with a 9-13-3 record and will return 16 players from last year's roster including last season's top three point contributors: juniors Hanna Beattie (16), Sara Lehman (11), and Emily Krueger (11).
The team graduated seven players: forwards Gwendolyn Schultz, Andree Heller, Nitsan Goldstein, Sam Cutts, and defensemen, Caitlin Conlon and goaltender Charlie Billadeau.
"We return a seasoned group on the blue line and our starting goaltender. " Gillis said. "Our scoring defense and penalty kill were each ranked 12th in the nation last year, so we are eager to build off that."
Sophomore Christina Cleroux worked her way up the ranks and was in goal 16 out of 25 games in her first season wearing purple. Cleroux finished tied for 8th nationally in shutouts and finished 5th in the nation in save percentage at 0.944. With the loss of Billadeau, the Ephs will welcome freshman Julia Mini (Danvers, MA) in between the pipes in addition to three sport goaltender Margaret Draper '17.
Action in front of the goaltenders will include sophomores Emily Eide and Candance Lu, junior captain Hanna Beattie, and seniors captain Talia Simon and Hadley DesMeules. In addition to being a key defender, Beattie also had her fair share of action offensively racking up three goals and 13 assists, leading the team with 16 points and a career total of 48 points in 53 games.
First year Eliza Quigley (Marblehead, MA) and Claire Mancheski (Minnetonka, MN) will add to the existing defensive lineup. Joining them up front will be Olivia Stokes (Pittsburgh, PA), Abby Brustard (Mound, MN), Annie Rush (Anchorage, AK), and Anna Fucillo (Winthrop, MA) who will bring a much needed spark to the Eph offense.
The Ephs averaged 1.60 goals per game and capitalized on 11 out of 84 power plays lead by leading scorer, junior Sara Lehman (7), followed by Gwendolyn Schultz '15 (6), junior Emily Krueger (5), senior Michaela Levine (4), and junior Chelsey Stevenson (4).
While the Ephs 2014-15 season seemed like a step back from the successful, championship run of the 2013-14 season, the team returns many of the leading point contributors and the spots left open from the graduating class leaves opportunities for the first years to prove themselves on the ice.
"We're looking to do the best we can in the league by focusing on the process and taking it one shift, one game, one series, at a time," Gillis said. "Doing well in the NESCAC will put us in a great position to be successful nationally."
The team will begin the season this Friday, November 20th with a conference matchup against Hamilton at the Lansing Chapman Rink here at Williams College at 7pm.