Williamstown, Massachusetts- The Williams women's hockey team returned home for this weekend matchup against their conference opponents Connecticut College. (11-3-2; 7-1-1 NESCAC) The Ephs (9-4-3; 3-3-3 NESCAC) came into this matchup undefeated in 2018 thus far, and looked to keep that streak alive against the NESCAC's #2 ranked Camels. A win in the contest tonight would extend their undefeated streak to 7 games.
As the Ephs had been able to do in their previous 3 contests, they broke the scoreless tie first. At 7:39 gone in the first period, the Ephs won a faceoff straight ahead, and junior Annie Rush found herself with possession behind the Connecticut College Camel netminder junior Bailey Mertz. She fired a centering pass to just outside the crease, but the pass was deflected to the corner. In this position, freshman Meghan Halloran gained possession and made one Camel defender miss. In this position, she then fired a pass across to her fellow freshman teammate, Brynn Puppe. From the left wing, Puppe fired a shot on goal, beating Mertz and giving Williams their first goal. Williams used the momentum to stave off several good scoring chances for the Camels, with help from the Williams defense and sophomore goaltender Marissa Anderson, who successfully stopped every shot she faced in the period.
The second period bean with a bang. Off a Connecticut College faceoff win to start the period, the Camels chose to dump the puck in deep, hoping to apply pressure early in the period. However, Williams was ready. Ephs junior Claire Mancheski retrieved the puck and made a pass to Halloran, who laid it off for junior Abby Brustad, who was streaking up the ice. Brustad collected the puck and made a drive at the net, dangling the puck in front of Mertz so she would bite, and then pulling it away, and slipping over the goalie's shoulder and into the back of the net. The Brustad goal was scored at just 18 seconds into the period and gave WIlliams a 2-0 advantage in the contest.
However, the Camels weren't going to go away that easily. At just under 5 and a half minutes gone in the second period, they bounced back with a goal of their own. Following a dump in deep into the Williams zone, Camel sophomore Lauren Helm won the puck on the wing, and deflected the puck to fellow freshman Erin Dillon. Dillon walked in on goal and fired a shot that was saved up in the air by Eph netminder Anderson. As the puck was falling back to the ice, Camel sophomore Kylie Wilkes deflected the puck out of midair past Anderson. The goal was heavily contested by the Ephs, as it appeared to be clearly hit in by Cho's hand, which would've meant the goal would not have counted. But, unfortunately for the Ephs, the refs allowed the goal, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Ephs.
Despite several very good scoring chances for both teams in the final three minutes of the period, both goalies remained confident in goal, making huge saves on plays that looked like clear goals. But the closest of the chances was had by the Ephs. Following a dump in, Brustad won the puck in behind the Camel net. She was able to slide the puck out in front of the goal to a waiting teammate Gabbi Montembeault. Her one timer beat Mertz, but unfortunately couldn't beat the crossbar, as it clanked off the pipe with just 1.1 seconds remaining in the period. This meant that the score remained just 2-1 in favor of Williams, who were hanging onto a slender lead over Connecticut College heading into the third period.
Williams entered the third period with the lead, but after just two minutes and fifty-seven seconds, the game was level at 2 goals apiece. Camel senior Katlyn Paiva won the puck in the neutral zone and played a pass off of the wall to fellow senior teammate Kate Kohl. Paiva made a drive to the middle of the ice and Kohl found her with the give-and-go. Paiva took the shot was able to put it in the upper netting, beating Anderson.
About a minute later, the Ephs were called for a holding penalty, as junior Olivia Stokes held a Camel player, Helm, who slid awkwardly into the goal. That penalty that sparked a power play for the Camels. After about a minute into the power play, at 5:37 in the period, Connecticut College got the go-ahead goal, taking the lead 3-2. With some clever passing behind the Williams net on the power play by Camel skaters junior Elena Gualtieri and senior Lily Connolly, Connolly was able to slide a pass out to the point to sophomore Erin Healy. Healy took a shot and was able to beat Anderson due to a screen that was set in front of the net. The Camels had clearly seized the momentum from the Ephs, having scored 3 unanswered goals.
At 8:19 in the third period, Ephs junior Annie Rush was called for a high sticking penalty, leaving the Camels (fresh off of a power play goal) on another man-advantage. This was a dangerous time for the Ephs, as conceding another goal could spell disaster. They needed a kill. While the Camels were able to generate several very good chances, the Eph defense, with help from Anderson was able to get the penalty kill, keeping contest a one-goal game.
This seemed to spark a little offensive push for Williams but they were still unable to generate any quality scoring chances as the Camel defense had strengthened their pressure and were providing no easy entry into the offensive zone for the Ephs. Despite a strong push by the Ephs in the final minute and half, with 6 skaters on the ice due to a pulled goalie, they were unable to convert as the clock ticked to zero.
"I thought we had a couple tough calls and a couple bounces that didn't go our way, and we let that swing the momentum of the game, instead of just being resilient and pushing back against those swings in momentum," stated Eph head coach Meghan Gillis. "Tomorrow, we are looking to build on the simple things: taking what is given and playing as a unit of five."
The Camels were able to end the Ephs undefeated 2018, but Williams will look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon when the Ephs return to the ice for the second half of their weekend double header against Connecticut College. The game starts at 3PM and will be at the Lansing Chapman Rink in Williamstown.