Women’s ice hockey dropped its season opener at home on Saturday, falling 5-1 to Middlebury.
Middlebury started the scoring early, just 9:32 into the first period, with a goal by rookie Maggie Melburg. The Panthers followed this with a second goal five minutes later to end the period at 2-0. In the second period, two Williams penalties resulted in a pair of Middlebury goals, boosting the Panthers’ lead to 4-0.
The Ephs had a better third period and capitalized on an opportunity that opened when a series of passes between Tracy Ferriter ’10 and Eliza Foster ’12 resulted in a drop pass to Kait O’Brien ’10. O’Brien quickly converted, producing the Ephs’ first and only goal of the game. Middlebury concluded the scoring with a late goal by Annmarie Celliono to bring the final tally to 5-1.
Despite letting in five goals, the Ephs’ new goalie Sarah Plunkett ’10 was aggressive between the pipes and made an impressive 45 saves. The Panthers had the advantage in power play opportunities as the Ephs committed eight fouls to Middlebury’s two. Middlebury also nearly doubled Williams’ shots on goal, firing 50 shots to the Ephs’ 26. Melburg led Middlebury in scoring with two goals and an assist in her college debut.
Despite a disappointing start to the season, the women maintain an upbeat outlook. Co-captain Sam Tarnasky ’09 is pleased with the effort her team made. “We came out really strong and we battled every shift,” Tarnasky said. “We played a full 60 minutes which is a huge step in the right direction.”
The Ephs’ 2007-2008 season ended with a final record of 5-17-2. “We are looking to start fresh after an unsettling season last year, and are confident that this will be a turn-around season for the program,” said co-captain Joey Lye ’09.
Although the team is already plagued with a few injuries, those who are healthy have been emphasizing conditioning and creativity in practice.
“I am looking to a solid yet lean group of seniors to lead us this year,” said Head Coach Shannon Bryant.Ã‚Â “Joey and Sam, along with fellow senior Mallory Green [’09], have seamlessly folded our young players into the program by setting good examples and providing solid leadership.”
Bryant will look to returning top scorers Lye, Tarnasky, Ferriter and O’Brien to provide an offensive threat again this season. Meanwhile, veterans Green, Allie Page ’11 and Lauren Zurek, ’11, provide solid defense in the back. Plunkett debuted for the Ephs after transferring from Colgate this year.
With such a young team, Bryant says many newcomers will find time on the ice. Their roles will become more defined as they learn the system and gain game experience.
The women will continue to work hard in practice with the goal of improving on their record from last year. “There are things we want to work on and we know what specifically needs improvement, but we did a lot of things right and we are ready to keep working hard to be better every day,” Tarnasky said.
The team will play at Plattsburgh on Friday.