Williamstown, MA—The Williams College Ephs (1-0/1-0 NESCAC) propelled themselves into a strong start to the season with a 2-1 victory over the Hamilton College Continentals (0-1/0-1 NESCAC). Senior captain Talia Simon scored the winning goal at 14:42 of the third period, tipping it in from a pass off the blue line.
For the first half of the first period, play was predominantly in the Ephs' defensive zone with last year's returning goalie sophomore Christina Cleroux making crucial glove saves. Even though the majority of play was behind the Eph blue line, Hamilton only managed three shots on net to Williams' ten, with the Ephs capitalizied on a key opportunitiy with senior Natalie Bernstein's goal at 16:06.
The Ephs battled through two penalty kills in the first period. After freshman Claire Mancheski's tripping penalty at the half of the period, the Ephs had a quick turnover with junior Hanna Beattie making a nifty pass off the glass. Sophomore Alex Lovass chased the loose puck with the Williams attackers racing forward on a 3-on-1. Sophomore Kearan Burke attempted follow up a rebound and senior Natalie Bernstein stuffed it in, giving Ephs a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
The Ephs and the Continentals both racked up two penalties in the second period with a 4-on-4 early in the period. During the 4-on-4, Williams came up the left side several times but couldn't quite get a center pass through. Williams had seven shots on net while Hamilton managed six.
The period rounded off with Hamilton's late goal to tie up the game. After a long purple defensive shift, Hamilton's senior Hannah Bartlett came off a long battle at the boards and, assisted by freshman Olivia Hawes and sophomore Caroline Knop, scored at 19:26.
Both Williams and Hamilton had 5-on-3 opportunities in the first half of the third period but each team's strong defensive squad held their ground resulting in no casualties.
"I think our special teams made the difference. We killed the 5-on-3, which gave us momentum to capitalize on the power play," head coach Meghan Gillis said.
Hamilton's sophomore Jade Alvillar was called for checking just after the halfway mark giving the Ephs another power play opportunity. This time they converted with senior Talia Simon tipping the puck in from a pass from the blue line giving the Ephs the lead and eventual win. She was assisted by senior Michaela Levine and sophomore Candace Lu at 14:32.
In the last minute of play and on a power play, Hamilton's attackers made one final rush but that thrust was snuffed by sophomore goalie Christina Cleroux sending the Ephs off to a great start for the season.
"It's always great to start off the new season with a win," Gillis said. "We got a lot of pucks on net and Hamiliton has a good goalie but we were able to get pucks through, which is key to starting the off the season."
The Williams women's ice hockey team returns to action tomorrow afternoon against Hamilton in Lansing Chapman Rink at 3:00 p.m.