Ephs split pair with Cardinals in opener

Abby Belcrest ’16 had an assist in the women’s 6-2 win over Wesleyan last Saturday at home. - Photo Courtesy of Sports Information
Abby Belcrest ’16 had an assist in the women’s 6-2 win over Wesleyan last Saturday at home. – Photo Courtesy of Sports Information

Last weekend, women’s hockey (1-1, 1-1 in the NESCAC) started its season at home with a double header against Wesleyan. Despite a disappointing 4-3 loss on Friday, the Ephs rallied for a decisive 6-2 win on Saturday.

With a game already under their belts and their first game nerves out, the Ephs flexed their offensive muscles on Saturday, scoring six goals to win the game 6-2. The win was truly a team effort, as evidenced by the six goals being scored by six different players.

The women started the game with a couple strong scoring chances, thanks to back-to-back Wesleyan penalties resulting in a five-on-three opportunity. Despite getting 12 shots on Wesleyan goaltender Laura Corcoran, the Ephs weren’t able to get the puck in the net.  The first period ended 0-0.

Co-captain Cristina Bravi ’14 continued the Ephs’ offensive charge in the second with a breakaway opportunity early in the period that was turned away by Corcoran. From there, however, the Cardinals took control of the period. Thanks to four Eph penalties, the Cardinals held the puck in the Ephs’ end of the ice for most of the period. The second penalty of the period 15 minutes in resulted in a penalty shot for the Cardinals. They took advantage and opened the scoring, ending the period with the board reading 1-0 in favor of Wesleyan.

An early penalty for the women gave Wesleyan a man-up advantage that they made the most of, scoring a second goal just one minute into the third period. However, a man advantage for Williams two minutes later gave the women the momentum to start up a scoring frenzy. Defenseman Hanna Beattie ’17 notched the first point for the Ephs three minutes into the period with a fast slap shot from the point. Bravi followed with a goal of her own less than two minutes later assisted by Emily Krueger ’17 and Chelsey Stevenson ’17. This goal put the game level at 2-2 at 5:34 in the third.

Not content with a tie, the Ephs kept the onslaught of goals coming. Just two minutes after the second goal, defenseman Caitlin Conlon ’15 skated in from the point and slipped the puck past Corcoran, notching her first collegiate goal. Conlon’s goal put the score at 3-2 and gave the Ephs their first lead of the game. A Cardinals penalty 16 minutes into the period gave the Ephs an opportunity to widen their lead. Forward Michaela Levine ’16 made the most of the man advantage, scoring a goal just 13 seconds into the penalty at 16:15. In a last-ditch attempt, Wesleyan pulled its goalie with less than two minutes in the game, giving forward Andree Heller ’15 the chance to score an empty net goal. Forward Caitlin Buckley ’17 scored for the Ephs with just eight seconds remaining in the game. The goal, assisted by Abby Belcrest ’16 and Eliza Noyes ’16, gave the Ephs a solid 6-2 win.

“We finally got used to playing with each other,” co-captain Gabrielle Vukasin ’14 said. “After a game and a half, it all finally clicked.”

The women’s first game against Wesleyan on Friday ended in a close 4-3 loss. Wesleyan started off the game strong, scoring its first goal just six minutes into the first period. Despite two power-play opportunities for the Ephs later in the period, the Cardinals protected their 1-0 lead until the sounding buzzer.

The Cardinals continued their offensive pressure with a second goal eight minutes into the second period, widening their lead to 2-0. The Ephs responded with a goal of their own thanks to Bravi, who slotted home the rebound from a shot by Conlon. The Ephs continued their offensive charge, getting a couple major scoring opportunities later in the period, but could not capitalize with a goal. The period ended with Wesleyan ahead 2-1.

A penalty 11 minutes into the third period gave the Ephs the chance to tie the game. Stevenson shot the puck past Corcoran just six seconds into the penalty, tying the game at 2-2. Wesleyan put themselves back in the lead seven minutes later with a power-play goal, making the score 3-2 18:22 into the third. A minute later, Wesleyan scored an empty net goal to solidify its lead at 4-2. The women did not let up despite the two-goal deficit, battling until the last second of the game. Their efforts paid off with a goal by forward Gwendolyn Schutlz ’15 a second before the buzzer. Despite the Ephs’ valiant efforts, Wesleyan took the game with a close 4-3 win.

“We were clearly dominating offensively; we were just having a little trouble capitalizing on our scoring opportunities,” Vukasin said. “Since much of the team is so young, we’re still getting used to playing our systems, which always take some time to learn, as well as [getting used to] playing with each other.”

The women’s next game is on Friday, when they will take on Utica away at 7 p.m. Williams will then play at Elmira on Saturday at 3 p.m. before concluding the month with a game at the University of New England on Nov. 30 at 4 p.m.