Women’s ice hockey falls to Jeffs

Women’s ice hockey (10-10-2, 7-6-1 in the NESCAC) suffered back-to-back losses against Amherst this weekend, 6-3 on Friday night and 8-0 on Saturday afternoon. The results represented the team’s seventh and eighth consecutive losses in the rivalry since 2007. The Jeffs (17-2-4, 12-1-3 in the NESCAC) are the defending national champions, are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation and have clinched the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament.

On Saturday, there were no opportunities for a comeback, as Amherst was dominant from start to finish. “It was a day where we didn’t catch any breaks,” Head Coach Marissa O’Neil said. “No one was having a good game.”

The Jeffs got on the board early, as Amherst put the puck past Williams netminder Sara Plunkett ’10 off a ricochet 3:23 into the game. Amherst forward Molly Malloy added a similar goal minutes later, as the Williams defense was unable to clear the puck after a battle in front of the net. The Eph defense held strong for the last 13 minutes of the period, keeping the aggressive Jeff attack in check.

Williams began the second period with a more aggressive offensive flow that saw slick handling from Sam Weinstein ’13 and a nice shot from Nicolle Perry ’13 that veered just inches high. However, the Amherst attack soon resumed. Despite a few nice saves by Plunkett, the Jeffs scored three more times in the period, two of which came on power plays.

Amherst remained aggressive going into the third period even while holding a 5-0 lead. Two more goals – one a quick shot right outside the crease, and one a breakaway goal – put the score at 7-0.

With the game out of reach, Plunkett was pulled for back-up goaltender Catherine Tremble ’13. Tremble made some solid play and racked up nine stops but allowed a goal to Amherst’s Geneva Lloyd, who leads the Jeffs with 24 points on the season. A final push by the Ephs to avoid the shutout came on a power play in the closing minutes but ultimately fell short, as the final score stood 8-0. Amherst goaltender Caroline Hu stopped all 20 Williams shots to ensure the shutout.

“[Amherst was] relentless tonight,” O’Neil said after the game. “They put the nail in the coffin with some highlight-reel goals.”

On Friday, the Ephs fell behind early before rallying in the final period, though they ultimately fell 6-3. The Jeffs struck first, scoring 7:50 into the game on a power-play goal as Amherst’s Lloyd put the puck through a crowd and under Plunkett’s pads. The Williams offense was slowed by four penalties and limited to just four shots on goal the entire period, compared to Amherst’s 11 looks.

The Jeffs broke things open in the second period, capitalizing on an early penalty and scoring two power play goals within the first two minutes. The Ephs responded with a power-play goal of their own from forward Eliza Foster ’12, assisted by nifty passing from Weinstein and Allison Page ’11. However, the Jeffs regained momentum as Lloyd notched her second goal of the night and Amherst forward Ellen Swiontkowski followed less than a minute later to put the lead at 5-1.

Facing a four-goal deficit, the Ephs came out guns blazing to start the third. Kait O’Brien ’10 scored a quick power-play goal 1:14 into the period, with assists from Sarah Herr ’12 and Torrey Taussig ’10. Tracey Ferriter ’10 then cut the lead to two on a power play with help from Page and Hannah Systrom ’12. However, the Jeffs’ defense held strong the rest of the night, and the game ended without an Eph comeback. An Amherst insurance goal in the final minutes brought the final score to 6-3.

“There was not a lot of flow due to penalties,” O’Neil said, citing the limited offensive opportunities caused by the man disadvantages. However, O’Neil was pleased with the effort and potential shown by the team in the final period after coming out flat the first two. On the night, Amherst outshot Williams 42-25, largely due to the 11 penalties committed by the Ephs. In contrast, the Jeffs had seven penalties.

The Ephs will finish the regular season at home with games against Colby on Friday at 7 p.m. and  again at Williams against Bowdoin on Saturday at 3 p.m. Earlier this season, Williams defeated Colby 4-0 on Nov. 28 and tied Bowdoin 2-2 on Nov. 29.

This weekend, the last of the regular season, is crucial because of its implications for the NESCAC tournament: with two wins, the Ephs will clinch a home quarterfinal game. A loss will likely mean having to make the trek to Maine in the first round to face a Bowdoin team who is particularly tough on their home ice.

According to O’Neil, the main preparations for the upcoming week will be mental. “The last three games have been hard,” she said. “We just haven’t clicked. We were in a good place just last week…We have our work cut out for us.”

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