Women’s hockey beats Jeffs; ends season on a high note

Despite being eliminated from ECAC playoff contention last week, the Williams women’s ice hockey team had much to play for this week, most notably a chance to end their season on a winning note and to improve upon last year’s 9-14-2 record. The team was successful on both accounts, winning two games this weekend over Southern Maine and Amherst, both by scores of 4-2. The wins bring the Ephs’ record to 10-11-2 and earns them a third place finish in ECAC North. The squad beat arch-rival Amherst for the second time of the season on Saturday night. As usual, the team was led by Cara Shortsleeve ’00, who scored two goals and assisted on another to put Williams over the top.

In the first period, neither team was able to score. But Shortsleeve netted two goals in the first ten minutes of the second to give Williams an insurmountable lead. Shortsleeve’s first goal came at the 3:59 mark on a power play with Katie Gold ’00 and Alexis Scott ’00 assisting. Then Shortsleeve pitched in an unassisted goal minutes later at 8:59 to give Williams a 2-0 lead.

Amherst would respond, however, with a goal of its own less than two minutes later, cutting the Eph lead to 2-1. The narrow margin was not about to last, though, as Sophie de la Barra ’02 scored a goal at 14:04 to put the Ephs up by two once again. In the third, Amherst would again narrow the margin to 3-2. Fortunately for Williams, Amherst could not get any closer the rest of the game as a tough Williams defense held the Lord Jeffs in check.

The Ephs put the finishing touches on the victory and the season when Kathrine Peterson ’02 scored the final goal of the match, an unassisted tally at 14:46. Kate Niederhoffer ’99 played her last game at Williams spectacularly, saving 25 of the 27 shots she faced in the net.

On Friday night, Williams bounced back from its three-game losing streak by defeating Southern Maine 4-2. De la Barra ’02 led the way with two goals and an assist. Williams began the scoring with a goal by Shortlsleeve from Katherine Lusk ’00 and Alexis Scott ’00 just 26 seconds into the game.

The defenses held tight through the second as neither team scored. In the third, though, Williams took over, scoring first at the 1:29 mark on a goal from Katie Gold ’00. De la Barra was credited with an assist.

Less than two minutes later, at the 3:14 mark, de la Barra scored the first of her two goals, assisted by Hillary Weinblatt ’02 and Gold. USM would score later in the period to narrow the margin to 3-1, but de La Barra sealed the victory with an empty net goal at 19:47. Niederhoffer and Shortsleeve assisted on the play.

For the game, Niederhoffer saved 14 of the 16 shots she faced. Despite not qualifying for an ECAC playoff berth, the team’s improvement over the year bodes well for next year. The team was especially strong in ECAC play, tying ECAC playoff teams Sacred Heart and Bowdoin, and losing narrowly to Middlebury and RPI. Though the Ephs will still be playing in ECAC North next year, probably the toughest division in ECAC, they stand a good chance to make another run at a playoff berth. The team returns leading scorer Shortsleeve, and loses Niederhoffer and Julie Rusczek ’99. That should be enough for the team to improve even further next year. Said Shortsleeve, “We are lucky to be losing only two players — however amazing they are — and we are ready to come out strong next year. With a lot of talent left on the team, and with the addition of an exceptionally strong recruiting class for next season — we are ready to roll.”