WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Ephs (3-2-0, 1-2-0 NESCAC, 0-1-0 Little Three) outshot the Wesleyan Cardinals (3-1-0, 1-0-0 NESCAC, 1-0-0 Little Three) by a dramatic 38-7 margin, but a terrific performance by goalie Allegra Grant put the Cardinals on top, 3-0.
Tonight was a special night for Williams women's ice hockey, as the team celebrated its 25th anniversary as a varsity sport. But the Ephs were stymied by a Wesleyan team that was able to withstand a barrage of shots while taking advantage of the few shot opportunities they had.
"I thought that obviously, we had lots of chances to score, but we just didn't capitalize on those chances, so hopefully tomorrow, we'll be able to convert on some of those," remarked Eph head coach Meghan Gillis on the tough-luck loss.
The Cardinals only took two shots on goal in the first period, but made the most of it as forward Allie Damren, racing towards the net on a 2-on-1, buried a slap shot into the top-left corner of the net to put Wesleyan up 1-0, 7:45 into the game.
The Ephs had many opportunities to tie the score, including an Eph power play in which Williams took six shots on goal – including a shot by sophomore forward Meghan Halloran that hit the right post – but was unable to score. Williams took seven other shots on goal in the period, but to no avail as they trailed 1-0 despite a robust 13-2 shot advantage.
The themes of the first period continued into the second. Wesleyan had several opportunities to extend their lead, including two power plays, but were held to just three shots in the period due to another strong effort by the Williams defense. But the Ephs, despite taking eighteen more shots on goal to increase the margin to a whopping 30-5, were unable to capitalize.
The Ephs held the Cardinals without a shot on goal for the first fourteen minutes of the third period, but Wesleyan once again took advantage of a prime opportunity. For the Cardinals' first shot of the period, forward Ally Beal took a pass from the blue line and shot a wrist shot right through the five-hole, beating Eph junior goalie Marissa Anderson to extend the Wesleyan lead to 2-0. Within two minutes, the Ephs pulled Anderson for a 6-on-5 advantage, but Grant was able to deflect a loose puck right near the crease and eight seconds later, Wesleyan defender Maggie Curran iced the game with an empty-netter to make it 3-0. Both Wesleyan shots in the third period resulted in goals.
In a game in which the Ephs were constantly knocking on the door, Wesleyan goalie Allegra Grant pitched a shutout, saving all 38 Williams shots. Whenever the Ephs had a scoring chance – and they had many – Grant was able to make impressive saves with both her glove and her pads to stymie the Williams offense and prevent further shot opportunities.
When asked about the message she's sending to the team for tomorrow's rematch, Gillis emphasized "trying to make a difference early, instead of waiting, and being able to set the tone and play our game instead of letting the opponent dictate the possession."
Tomorrow at 3PM, the Ephs get another shot at Wesleyan, with a chance to tie the season series 1-1.