Women’s hockey falls in first round of NCAA Tourney

The season came to an ugly end for women’s hockey this weekend as the team lost its first-round game in the NCAA tournament to the Manhattanville Valiants. After losing to Middlebury last weekend in the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament, the Ephs did not expect to even make their appearance on Saturday against Manhattanville, the second-seeded team in the national tournament.

Despite this unexpected blessing, the Ephs went into the tournament determined to extend their season and prove that they deserved their spot. Unfortunately, the Valiants proved too much for the Ephs, as they beat Williams 5-1 in a thoroughly dominating performance.

The Ephs have never beaten Manhattanville in their traditional early season bouts, but they hoped that with a season’s experience under their belt they could make a stronger statement this time around.

While the Ephs are definitely a better team than the one that fell to the Valiants 3-2 earlier this season, Williams was unable to overcome Manhattanville’s depth, tremendous size advantage and physical style of play. On the ice some of the Williams players looked dwarfed by Manhattanville’s bevy of 5’7″ to 5’9″ players. This meant that some of the smaller skill players on the Williams team were shut down by pure force.

In their first match-up this season, the Valiants jumped out to an early 3-0 first period lead and held on despite 43 Eph shots to win 3-2. This game started in strikingly similar fashion, as Manhattanville racked up 3 early goals.

Manhattanville struck early, as Jennifer Mulick passed to Ali Annunziato who scored with Williams goalie Monelle Quevillon ’03 out of the net just 2 minutes, 7 seconds into the game.

The Valiants scored again less than five minutes later as Jessica Temesy scored her 16th goal of the season from Annunziato and Kim Hayden at 6:33 of the period, forcing Eph Head Coach Joe Milan to use his team’s timeout less than seven minutes into the game.

Manhattanville finished off the scoring in the first period by taking advantage of one of the Ephs glaring weaknesses this year, their tendency to give up shorthanded goals. Kristin Sahlem scored a short handed goal unassisted at 12:51 of the first period, her 19th goal of the season.

The power play has become a dangerous time for the Ephs, as in their last few games they have given up more shorthanded goals than they have scored on the power play, including the game-winning goal by Bowdoin in the Ephs’ final game of the regular season. The Ephs ended up giving up 19 shots to the Valiants in the first period while managing just three of their own.

The Ephs struggled out of the gates in the second period also, as any hope at a quick comeback was snuffed out by early penalties. Manhattanville got 17 shots in the second period, but Quevillon was able to hold them off until 14:51 of the period, when Mulick scored her 22nd goal of the season with assists from Amanda Zimecki and Hayden.

Cherie Stewart followed up shortly afterwards with an unassisted breakaway goal at 16:35 of the second, her 18th of the season. The Valiants’ last four goals were all scored by players with more than 15 goals on the season. Manhattanville leads the nation in scoring offense, averaging 6.66 goals per game. Molly Wasserman ’04 leads the Ephs in goals with 14.

The Eph offense came alive in the third period as Melissa Vandermyn ’06 scored her ninth goal of the season at 1:39 of the period with an assist from Rachel Barr ’06. Despite getting 11 shots for the period, the Ephs were unable to score again, as the teams spent the rest of the game trading penalties and scoring opportunities. Manhattanville got 14 shots in the third period for a game total of 50, of which Quevillon saved 45 for a respectable .900 save percentage.

With the Ephs’ season definitely over, and the ice finally coming out of Lansing Chapman rink, the women have only next year to look forward to now. Things look bright for the team next year, however, as they return a strong rising sophomore class that contains six of the team’s top eight scorers. The Ephs will also be returning assist leader Annie Snodgrass ’05 and top goal-scorer Wasserman. One question mark for the Ephs is who will replace four-year starter Quevillon in net.

The outgoing senior class has done its school proud, taking a once laughed-at women’s hockey team to the top of the NESCAC rankings. In their four years, they became the first NESCAC team ever to defeat Middlebury and then the first team ever to defeat Middlebury on the road. They also led the women’s hockey team to their first berth in the national championship tournament.