Women’s ice hockey (9-13-3, 6-8-2 in the NESCAC) ended its season last Saturday, falling 1-0 in a close game to Trinity in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament. Trinity’s goalie, Sydney Belinskas, recorded a conference-best sixth shutout of the season. The Bantams improved to 16-6-2 on the season, advancing to the NESCAC Semifinals for the first time since 2012.
The Ephs started the game off strong, outshooting their opponents 12 to six. Trinity received a two-minute penalty early into the first period at 15:48 and the women also went man down shortly thereafter at 9:15. However, neither team could capitalize.
The lone goal of the night came with just over 10 seconds left in the first period. Belinskas stopped a Williams shot and Trinity’s Emma Tani grabbed the rebound. Tani brought the puck up the ice and buried it behind Eph goalie Christina Cleroux ’18 for the unassisted goal, her ninth of the season.
The teams continued to battle it out in the remaining two periods, with play remaining fairly even. Both teams put forward strong offensive plays, but matched them with steady defense, keeping the score low. Cleroux recorded 24 saves, while Belinskas earned her shutout by stopping 37 Williams shot attempts.
In the third period, Williams saw a total of four man-up opportunities. Despite quality shots during these periods, the Ephs could not find the back of the net. Williams did manage to defend two of Trinity’s power plays, holding its opponent to just one goal. The women did an impressive job, as Trinity’s high-powered offense has averaged almost four goals per game this season, the most in the conference.
Head Coach Meghan Gillis pulled Cleroux for the final two minutes of the game, looking to capitalize on the extra numbers. The puck flew back and forth across the ice as Trinity attempted to keep Williams out and Williams fought hard to get through Trinity’s defense. However, the Ephs suffered a penalty and did not manage to get a shot off before time expired.
Williams and Trinity faced-off earlier in the season, splitting a pair of games. The Ephs dropped the first matchup 6-3, but bounced back the next day to take down the Bantams 1-0.
Though the team is dissapointed it did not get the chance to defend its NESCAC title, the women reflect fondly on their season. “While we didn’t want the season to end this weekend, we had some great moments this season that made it a really good year for Williams hockey,” co-captain Nitsan Goldstein ’15 said. “We improved tremendously over the course of the year, we gave the best team in the country a really tough game and almost beat them, and we came together and gave it our best shot in the quarterfinals. I’m really proud of my teammates and how they played on Saturday and all season.”
Next year, Williams will return its leading scorer, Sara Lehman ’17, and its assist leader, Hanna Beattie ’17.
The Ephs will lose seven seniors to graduation this spring. They say goodbye to Samantha Cutts ’15, Perry McCarthy ’15, Gwen Schultz ’15, Charlie Billadeau ’15, assistant captain Caitlin Conlon ’15, co-captain Andree Heller ’15 and Goldstein.