Women’s ice hockey dominates Cardinals, Continentals

Blowing away the competition, women’s ice hockey (8-15-1, 6-9-1 in the NESCAC) downed both Wesleyan (2-21-1, 1-14-1) and Hamilton (9-13-2, 3-11-2) at home to go two for two over the weekend. The team is now set to face second-ranked Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC tournament.

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Cardinals also marked senior day for three departing Ephs: Mallory Green ’09 and co-captains Joey Lye ’09 and Sam Tarnasky ’09. Although the small ceremony on the ice befitted the careers and contributions of these three valuable players, the game began unpromisingly for the women. The first period proved uneventful until questionable penalty rulings served Tracey Ferriter ’10 two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and 10 more for misconduct due to shooting on a finished play. During the ensuing power-play opportunity for Wesleyan, goalie Sarah Plunkett ’10 was injured during the action in the net, and the Cardinals successfully earned the first goal of the game.

This shot was enough to inspire the Ephs, and the women doggedly pressed their offensive hand, outshooting Wesleyan 17-9 in the first period. Only about four minutes after Wesleyan’s goal, Eliza Foster ’12 and Lauren Zurek ’11 assisted Torrey Taussig ’10 in netting a loose puck over Wesleyan goalie Rachel Stemerman.

Even with the Ephs’ impressive attempts and tough hockey, they were not able to advance on the Cardinals until they got a little ways into the second period. Lye made a try on the goal, and Mimi McClatchy ’11 saved the play to nab both the winning goal and the first goal of her collegiate career. Tarnasky collected an assist on the play. Williams continued to outshoot Wesleyan in the second and third periods – ending with a 37-22 advantage – but did not manage to increase the lead. The third period saw the women gather up the penalty minutes; however, their fierce offense and solid defense prevented a Wesleyan breakthrough for the rest of the game. Ferriter enters the postseason as the Ephs’ leading scorer, just above co-captains Lye and Tarnasky.

“It was a confidence building weekend for us as we played two solid games and came away with two wins. My seniors, Mallory Green, Joey Lye and Sam Tarnasky, led us with consistent effort and play all weekend,” and I am proud of both the seniors and the team as a whole for what we brought to the each game,” Head Coach Shannon Bryant said.

The Wesleyan win came on the heels of a dominating 4-1 defeat of Hamilton the day before. The Ephs came out firing, forcing the Continentals to scramble on defense and commit five penalties to Williams’ one before the end of the first period. Additionally, the women took 13 shots on goal to Hamilton’s seven in the first period, and they managed to capitalize on their third shot when Foster led Hannah Systrom ’12 and Zurek into an effective attack on the Hamilton goal after a power play. In the final moments of the period, Green capitalized on another power play to notch a second point for the Ephs, and Systrom and Zurek collected assists. A penalty-free second period was highlighted by a second goal from Green, assisted by Taussig and Kristen Tubbs ’12. The Ephs outshot their opponents again, 12-6.

In the third period, a Continental finally broke through the squad of Ephs to put one past Plunkett. Within two minutes, Tubbs responded with help from Taussig and Lye and slipped in another point over the shoulder of Continental goalie Meg Shine. There was no Hamilton comeback from this point, and the women claimed their win 4-1, breaking this season’s longest losing streak and beginning the momentum that carried them into their rout over Wesleyan.

Traveling to Middlebury on Feb. 28, the squad hopes to bring its best play into the rink for the first-round game. Middlebury is currently ranked second in the league behind undefeated Amherst, and like the Ephs, the Panthers also pulled double wins over Hamilton and Wesleyan this past weekend.

“Looking to Middlebury, we will have to come with a balance of excitement and composure,” Bryant said. “The theme this week will be to continue to build confidence in our team and do the little things right every time.”