Women’s ice hockey over .500 after beating UVM convincingly

After a long winter break, the Williams womens’ ice hockey team had two important ECAC North home divisional matchups with rivals Middlebury and Vermont. The team lost its game to Middlebury, the top ranked squad in Division III ECAC, but rebounded the next night to win convincingly over the University of Vermont 4-1. The Ephs’ record now stands at 4-3-1.

The team’s Saturday game against Vermont was one of the most important of the season, as both teams were tied for third going into the contest. The team responded accordingly and gave a spirited performance, clicking on all cylinders. The team, in control for most of the game, had a number of fast breaks and kept the puck near the Vermont goal for most of the game.

Alexis Scott ’00 led the way with two goals while Cara Shortsleeve ’00 chipped in with a goal and two assists. Williams got things started off on a Scott goal from Kristen Lee ’01 with 41 seconds left in the first. The team’s second goal came at the 14:42 mark of the second by Molly Venter ’02, on an assist from Shortsleeve. The fast-break goal came while the team was shorthanded by one. Minutes later, at 3:16, Williams capped off its strong second period with another goal from Scott, assisted this time by Shortsleeve and Sophie de la Barra ’02. Williams protected its lead well, allowing only one Vermont goal the rest of the way. The victory was sealed in the third when Shortsleeve scored her goal, assisted by Caitlin Bowler ’02 and Venter. Co-captain Kate Niederhoffer ’99 turned in an excellent performance at goal for the Ephs, saving 25 of the 26 shots she faced.

The team did not have such luck in its 7-0 loss to Middlebury. It was a rough night all-around as the Panthers outshot Williams 64-9. The game was pretty similar to the team’s earlier game against Yale, in which it played good defense but couldn’t keep up with the powerful Panthers as they moved the puck up and down the ice. Niederhoffer saved 33 of the 39 shots she faced while Becky Sanborn ’01, receiving some playing time in the third period, pulled in a strong performance, saving 23 of the 24 shots she encountered.

Middlebury started things off with a goal at the 13:48 mark of the first by Catherine Pullins, assisted by Sarah Carpenter and Catherine Elkins. Middlebury would add to its lead later in the first (6:44) on a goal by Michelle Labbe from Janice O’Neil. The Panthers would later score four goals in the second and one more in the third.

Coach Amy Carlson is proud of the team’s performances in both games. Despite the disparate results, she felt the team played strongly and with heart in both its matchups. For her, wins and losses are less important than whether the team plays well, which she feels it did in even in the later stages of the Middlebury when their defeat was sealed. The results, in her opinion, came out differently due to the differences in opponent strength.

Scott feels the same way. “I think we played consistently both days. The biggest difference was in the opponents. With Middlebury, we played disciplined for the most part but we were unable to generate any offense. With UVM, definitely a weaker opponent in all areas, we were able to get into our offensive zone and create scoring opportunities.”

Scott feels the team was successful in both games at being disciplined and playing their system. The key to having a successful season, in her opinion, rests in the team playing strong defense as it did in the Middlebury game and create scoring opportunities as it did in the UVM game.

The Ephs face RPI both at home and away in the coming week.

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