Pine Valley, NY- The Williams College Ephs (5-3-0, 3-1-0 NESCAC) faced the Elmira College Soaring Eagles (10-1-0). Elmira is currently ranked second in USCHO.com national poll and now has won ten straight games.
"I think opening the new year with a non-conference game allows us to prepare to getting back into league play and helps to get us back in the right mindset," head coack Meghan Gillis said.
The first period started off with an early goal from the Soaring Eagles at 2:15 by junior Jessica Prance, assisted by senior Phoebe Piku and sophomore Rachel Grampp. The Ephs fought back hard against this tough matchup and trailed Elmira by only two shots on net, 9 to 7. Both teams only had one penalty and the period ended with the Ephs down by one, 1-0.
Much of the second period play was spent in the Eph defensive zone with Eph goaltender, sophomore Christina Cleroux making several crucial saves. Elmira extended their lead to 2-0 halfway through the second at 9:08 with a goal by senior Olivia Nystrom, assisted by junior Ari Smith and senior Phoebe Piku.
The Ephs fought hard in the third period, giving the Soaring Eagles very few shots on net and putting continuous pressure on Elmira goaltender, sophomore Kelsey Crawford. The Ephs cut the deficit in half early in the third period. Senior Michaela Levine took a sharp angled shot into the top corner at 3:09, assisted by sophomores Candace Liu and Alex Lovaas.
"Playing against the number two team in the country is always tough but I think we played extremely well in the third period, cutting our deficit in half and setting up lots of opportunities to tie up the game," Gillis said.
With just over two minutes left in the game, both teams called a timeout to formulate one more play. Shortly after, the Ephs went on a breakaway. Elmira senior Phoebe Piku threw her stick giving the Soaring Eagles a choice of putting a player in the box or giving the Ephs a penalty shot. Elmira chose to test Eph sharpshooter, senior Natalie Bernstein but Bernstein couldn't quite tie up the game.
"Any time you play like we did against a tough team you have to be proud of your efforts," Gillis said. "Natalie did a great job setting up the play leading to the penalty shot."
In the last minute of play, Williams pulled sophomore Christina Cleroux to give them the man advantage but just came up short on pushing the game to overtime.
The Ephs will next face Bowdoin in a NESCAC contest on January 8 at 7:00 p,m.