Women’s hockey defeats Trinity in NESCAC thriller

On Saturday, women’s ice hockey (13-9-3, 9-4-3 in the NESCAC) took on Trinity in the first round of NESCAC playoffs at its home Lansing Chapman Arena. The Ephs ousted the Bantams in a suspenseful 3-2 match, scoring all three of their goals in the last period of the game. Although Williams had previously swept Trinity during the regular season, the Bantams put up a strong fight for most of the match.

Despite three power-play opportunities in the first period, the Ephs failed to get the puck past Bantam goaltender Kristen Maxwell. Trinity, however, turned up the offensive in the last few minutes of the period, scoring a goal just three minutes before the buzzer, making the score at the end of the first 1-0.

In the second period, the Ephs came out determined to get on the scoreboard. Though they had twice as many shots as the Bantams in the second period, Maxwell kept all pucks out of the net. Eph goaltender Charlie Billadeau ’15 also had a strong showing, preventing Trinity from extending its lead. The strong defensive showing by both goalies kept the period scoreless, and Trinity maintained its 1-0 lead.

The third period witnessed a different Williams team. The Ephs tied the game just three minutes after the drop of the puck. Forward Gwen Schultz ’15 leapt on a rebound in front of the net, driving it past Maxwell, aided by co-captain Gabby Vukasin ’14 and fellow linemate Chelsey Stevenson ’17. Riding the momentum of their first goal, the Ephs notched a second goal just 18 seconds later. Co-captain Cristina Bravi ’14 knocked in a rebound off of a drive from defenseman Hanna Beattie ’17 to put the Ephs in the lead 2-1. The women held their lead until midway through the period, when Trinity slipped the puck past Billadeau to tie the game at 2-2. Not to be outdone, the Ephs responded with a goal of their own just 30 seconds later. At a face off, Bravi won the puck back to Beattie who took a shot from the point that blistered by Maxwell and put the Ephs in the lead 3-2. Trinity desperately tried to tie the score in the remaining minutes of the period and pulled Maxwell to gain a man-up opportunity in the last minute of play. However, Billadeau protected the women’s lead and secured a 3-2 victory for Williams.

“This weekend was one of the most exciting experiences of my life,” said Vukasin. “That hour of our lives going from losing in the third period to hosting NESCACs was the most exciting change of events. The girls deserve it; they have worked their butts off everyday in practice and 25 games for this opportunity.”

As a result of two huge upsets in the NESCAC championships – Conn. College’s win over No. 1 Middlebury and Colby’s win over No. 2 Amherst – the NESCAC semifinal and final playoff games will be hosted at Lansing Chapman Rink this weekend. Williams will face off against Conn. College on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the NESCAC semifinals.