Women’s hockey defeats Amherst and Hamilton in NESCAC play

This weekend served as an opportunity for women’s hockey to reestablish itself as a top hockey program in New England, as the Ephwomen faced conference foe Hamilton and Little Three rival Amherst.

In beating Amherst 6-2 and Hamilton 3-2 in dominant fashion, the Ephs showed that they are indeed one of the top teams in the country.

The women took on Amherst Sunday afternoon. The Ephs had beated Amherst 4-1 earlier in the season and came into the game against the seventh place Lord Jeffs confidently after defeating Hamilton and Colby in consecutive appearances.

The Amherst faithful, however, clearly believed that the Jeffs were more than a match for the Ephs, as several held aloft signs proclaiming, “Wasserman can’t score.”

Fortunately for the Ephs, it wasn’t long before Molly Wasserman ’04 proved the sign-holders wrong, as she notched an unassisted goal at 3:35 of the first period.

Two more goals followed in quick succession for the Ephs as Bonnie Lui ’04 scored from Wendy Stone ’05 at 4:18 and Julia Karoly ’03 scored from Liz Hodgman ’05 at 8:29.

Williams dominated the first period from start to finish, out-shooting the Lord Jeffs 17-4, but Amherst made the most of its meager opportunities by scoring two goals.

Alicia Pichard scored just 33 seconds after the third Williams goal. Danielle Williams brought the Jeffs back to within one with an unassisted goal during a two-man Amherst advantage at 17:21 of the period.

In the second period, Williams once again dominated Amherst with several scoring opportunities and 12 shots on goal to the Lord Jeffs’ four, but were only able to score one goal. Stone scored on a power play from Jackie Goff ’06 and Taylor Tyson ’06 at 17:42 of the period.

A clearly demoralized Amherst squad put up even less of a fight in the final period and managed only three shots on goal. The Ephs continued to pepper Amherst goalie Heidi Alexander, finishing up the game with 43 shots on goal.

In the third period, Lui scored with an assist from Wasserman at 5:16 of the period and Carrie Miller ’06 scored with assists from Wasserman and Karoly at 16:31 for the last goal of the game. Eph goalie Monelle Quevillon ’03 saved nine of 11 for the game as Williams wrapped up the Little Three title.

In the other game of the weekend, on Saturday night against the Hamilton Continentals, the Ephs looked to avenge an early-season 4-2 loss.

Hamilton is currently tied with Williams in the NESCAC, but it was clear from the beginning that Williams was the dominant team. In the first period, the Ephs out-shot the Continentals 13-8 but only managed one goal. Lui scored the first of her three goals for the weekend at 11:37 of the period with an assist from Wasserman.

In the second period, the teams were able to manage 20 shots, but both goalies were flawless, and the third period started with the score remaining 1-0. Williams started out the third period well, with Rachel Barr ’06 scoring from Gigi Stender ’05 at 1:04 on a power-play goal.

Despite holding Hamilton to only four shots for the period, however, the Ephs were unable to keep the lead.

The Continentals’ Zoe Baldwin scored from Marissa Halligan at 4:23 of the period. Paula Dady tied it up at 7:13 with an assist from Jane Bradley. Williams’ 19 shots were not enough and neither team was able to score in the second half of the period.

The Ephs made quick work of the overtime session, however, as Annie Snodgrass ’05 scored from Karen Thome ’03 just 51 seconds in. The Ephs are now 3-0-1 in overtime games.

Quevillon stopped 18 of 20 shots and Hamilton goalie Jen Kroleski saved 43 of 46. In the two games against Hamilton, the Ephs have managed 5 goals on an astonishing 95 shots.

After struggling to find the net for several weeks, the Ephs have now managed 12 goals in their last 3 games and have been mere inches away on innumerable other opportunities. In addition, almost every player contributed a goal or assist in the weekend series.

The women’s hockey team was able to hold onto their number five national ranking for another week. Pollsters were probably forgiving of the Ephs’ 6-6-1 record partly because of the team’s extremely difficult schedule. In games against the other members of the top six in women’s hockey, Williams is 0-4-1.

The Ephs travel to Bowdoin next weekend to take on Concordia and St. Thomas. Conference play resumes on Feb. 7 at home against Wesleyan.

Winning two or three of these games will be critical in solidifying the Ephs’ bid for the NCAA tournament and gaining momentum for the final part of the NESCAC season.