Women’s ice hockey (4-8-1, 2-3-1 in the NESCAC) went into the weekend on an exciting three-game winning streak, having won four of its last six matches and with respective 7-0 and 6-0 shutouts over Castleton St. and Colby (6-5-2, 3-3-1 in the NESCAC) under its belt. Nonetheless, the Ephs finally fell 4-2 to the Neumann Knights in the first game of their non-conference double-header on Friday night. They did rally, however, to a 5-3 victory in their second game on Saturday.
Neumann’s defense fought hard for Friday’s win, frustrating several early scoring opportunities for the women. Goalie Mel Brunet made 33 saves for the Knights, while Nikki Blazenko led the Knights’ offense, netting two goals from two assists by fellow sophomore forward Jessica Schroeder.
Williams’ forward, co-captain Sam Tarnasky ’09, played a strong game, scoring the Ephs’ first goal in the beginning of the second period to cut the Knights’ lead to one.
After a struggle for a loose puck in front of the Williams goal, Neumann junior Holly Williams capitalized on a pass from Jasper Thompson for the game-winner. Nicole Alexopoulus scored Neumann’s final goal to put the Knights up 4-1.
The Ephs netted one more goal for a 4-2 game when Tarnasky assisted the power-play goal of first-year defender Sarah Herr ’12 early in the third period. “The first game was a tough loss, but there are always those days when things just don’t connect,” Tarnasky said. “There was a lot of excitement about our recent wins going in and that can be distracting.”
The Ephs returned to their home rink on Saturday afternoon with renewed focus. With their victory in this game, the Ephs improved their overall record to 5-8-1 while Neumann dropped to 7-8-0.
The Ephs’ offense looked formidable, and the team found early success when defender Allison Page ’11 scored off a drop pass from Tarnasky 11:01 into the first period. Neumann responded with a power play; Alexopoulus finished off a blocked shot at 14:42. Defender Kait O’Brien ’11 responded at 16:04 to create a 2-1 Ephs lead.
The women dominated the second period, scoring three goals. Neumann blocked the slap shot from forward Tracy Ferriter ’10, but forward Jaqueline Berglass ’10 scored off the rebound at 4:53. Ferriter scored the game-winning goal, unassisted, at 12:22. Of 14 attempts on goal, the Knights only clinched one with a power play from Schroeder.
Williams defense continued to prove itself as Neumann took 16 shots on goal in the third period. Jessica Schroeder finally netted a goal for the Knights at 13:58 when she beat the Ephs’ defense and goalie Sarah Plunkett ’11 to put away Neumann’s only goal of the period.
Shortly after the Knights’ goal, a collision with a couple of Neumann players brought Tarnasky down. She left the ice with assistance and did not return to the game, but her teammates picked up the slack with determination. Though Carly Fitzsimmons scored for Neumann at 8:06 in the third period, Williams managed to hold Neumann off for the remainder of the game, resulting in the final score of 5-3.
The Ephs showed resilience this weekend, coming back to split the double-header and redeem Friday’s loss. “I am really proud of the way we shook off the first game and came back Saturday ready to play,” Tarnasky said. “We calmed ourselves down and took care of the little things in the second game.”
The team has a week of practice before traveling to Trinity for a conference double-header. They are scheduled to play the Bantams on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.