WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Brynn Puppe's slap shot that may have been deflected by the stick of a Norwich defender eluded Cadet goalie Emily Lambert giving Williams (21-4-3) a 2-1 lead at 5:39 of the third period. Soon after Avery Dunn's tally at 11:50 ended the scoring in the contest as Williams claimed its first ever NCAA Tournament win 3-1 and eliminated the defending NCAA champions.
"We had just been told to throw pucks at the net" said Puppe, " We hadn't been testing the goalie enough so it was just important to get pucks to the net quickly. The forwards created traffic around the net and we were really motivated by Chloe's amazing save since she was doing her job and so it was time for us to step up and do our job."
Abby Brustad and Annie Rush assisted on the Puppe tally that provided Williams a lead they would not relinquish, while Amanda Reisman and Eliza Quigley earned assists on the Dunn goal.
Williams started off slowly in the first period as Norwich slightly outshot the Ephs 9-6. However, first year goalie Chloe Heiting denied the Cadets a goal and Lambert kept Williams off the scoreboard as well.
Williams scored the first goal of the game at 3:27 into the second period. Meghan Halloran received a pass from Amanda Reisman and fired a shot, which bounced off the crossbar and senior captain Abby Brustad buried the puck off the rebound. The one goal Williams lead did not last long, however, as Norwich responded with their own goal a few minutes later. Norwich's Amanda Conway netted her DIII-leading 30th goal of the year for the Cadets on a power play at 7:09. Maggie Conroy and Jessica Piracini assisted on the tying goal.
Eph first year Chloe Heiting made one phenomenal save after another, the most important being an incredible sprawling kick save on a Norwich two on one in the second period when the Cadets out shot the ephs 18-8. "I really trusted my forwards and defense to help me," said Heiting, "I knew they could depend on me and I could depend on them so it's a two way street."
The Ephs then solidified their lead when Reisman, after a pass from senior Eliza Quigley, centered the puck from behind the net to sophomore Avery Dunn, who buried it. "We had a lot of momentum going off the last few minutes,"said Dunn, "It was a great pass from Mandy behind the net and I just focused on working the puck low."
"I think we had a little bit of nerves starting out for the NCAA game for everyone," said head coach Meghan Gillis, "Chloe made some huge saves and let us settle in." By the end of the game, Heiting had saved 32 of 33 shots while Norwich's Emily Lambert had saved 22 of 25 Williams' shots.
"Defense capitalized in the third period on some key plays just from good cycles and Brynn's goal, keeping it simple and getting it to the net," Gillis added. This victory marks the Ephs first ever NCAA Tournament win and a program record for the most wins in a season at 21 wins.
The Ephs now advance to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA DIII Women's Ice Hockey Tournament. Williams will play Plattsburgh State on Saturday in Plattsburgh, NY.
"It's good that Plattsburgh had their game as well today, that's huge for us," Gillis said. "This is the time of year we just try to continue to play the best."