Ephs stumble against non-conference foes

Women’s ice hockey (2-3, 1-1 NESCAC) fell 5-2 last Saturday to Div. I Sacred Heart, after losing to St. Anselm the previous day 2-0. The women beat Utica 3-1 on Nov. 27, after splitting a pair of games with Wesleyan, winning 5-4 on Nov. 19 after losing 5-3 on Nov. 18.

Haena Lee ’14 scored a goal in the women’s first game of the season against Wesleyan on Nov. 18.
Haena Lee ’14 scored a goal in the women’s first game of the season against Wesleyan on Nov. 18. Photo Todd Brenner.

Despite a slow start on Saturday, the Williams managed to hold Sacred Heart to only one goal at the end of the first period. However, the Pioneers were able to capitalize on several lulls in Williams’ defense, taking a 4-0 lead by the middle of the second period. One of the two goals for the Ephs came from Sam Weinstein ’13 at the end of the second period. The other goal, one of only two successful power plays for the women, came from Gabrielle Vukasin ’14.

The women’s game against St. Anselm last Friday was marked by fast-paced and aggressive play. Both teams had numerous shots on goal and turned in stellar defensive play, but the game remained scoreless heading to the third period. In the third, St. Anselm broke the scoreless tie with two goals. The Hawks found the back of the net at 14:32 and 11:08 to take a 2-0 lead. The score held for the final minutes of play, and St. Anselm took a 2-0 victory. Goalie Rachel Nguyen ’14 concluded the night with 15 saves.

On Nov. 27 against Utica, the Ephs had a better start, getting on the board early in the first period. Cristina Bravi ’14 picked up a loose puck and passed to Kristen Tubbs ’12, who was able to find the back of the net with 13:24 left in the first period. Solid defense from both teams kept the remainder of the period scoreless. With 3:40 remaining to play in the second period, Vukasin ended the scoring draught with a high shot past the Utica goalie to bring the score to 2-0. Pioneers scored late in the third period, with 4:35 remaining. A quick rebuttal by Bravi gave the Ephs their third goal with 1:03 remaining, bringing the final score to 3-1.

Williams started its season with two back-to-back games against NESCAC and Little Three rival Wesleyan on Nov. 18 and 19. On Nov. 19, the women got on the board after an early goal by co-captain Eliza Foster ’12 only three minutes into the game. Wesleyan quickly retaliated, evening the score at 1-1. The Cardinals were able to notch one more goal before the end of the first period, rapping a backhand shot just out of the reach of Nguyen with 17.6 seconds left to play in the first, bringing the score to 2-1 in favor of the Cardinals. In the second period, the Cardinals increased their lead to 3-1 after a successful power play opportunity. The Ephs rallied back, however, with a goal by Tubbs to narrow the gap to 2-3. Just 26 seconds later, Vukasin managed to deflect the puck past the Cardinals’ goalie, tying the game at 3-3. Early in the third period, Wesleyan scored again, bringing the score to 3-4. Vukasin had the answer once more, notching her second goal of the game and tying the game at 4-4 with 13:48 to play. Then, with 7:25 to play, a goal from Bravi solidified the Ephs’ 5-4 lead. “Saturday we stuck to our game, did the basics and battled back and forth to win a critical NESCAC game,” co-captain Hannah Systrom ’12 said.

In the season opener on Nov. 18, the Ephs suffered a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Cardinals. Wesleyan controlled play in the beginning, capitalizing on their first shot and scoring 18 seconds into the first period. The Cardinals scored again with 8:33 remaining in the first. The women soon rebounded with their first power play of the season. Sarah Herr ’12 had a superb assist to Vukasin with less than five minutes to play in the first period. Early in the second period, Haena Lee ’14 recorded her first goal of the season, knotting the score at 2-2. Wesleyan started the third period off with a high shot into net with 15:21 remaining. The Ephs rallied back just over a minute later, with Aimee Dennett ’13 finding the back of the net, bringing the score to 3-3. The Cardinals were able to capitalize on two more opportunities in the last 10 minutes of the game, ending the game with a 5-3 win for the Cardinals.

“The girls have been working hard during practices and that we are working on doing the little things right,” Head Coach Meghan Gillis said. “We have been focusing on getting better in our defensive zone and communicating well as a team when we are out there on the ice.”

The women will play again at home against Nichols on Friday at 5:00 p.m., before traveling to Elmira on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. game.

“We are excited for our next two out-of-conference games,” Systrom said. “They are big momentum games for us, and we are looking to get it back.”