Women’s ice falters against Middlebury

Tri-captain Hanna Beattie ’17 notched three shots against Middlebury on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Tri-captain Hanna Beattie ’17 notched three shots against Middlebury on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

The women’s ice hockey team (12-11-1, 8-8 in the NESCAC) suffered two tough defeats to rival Middlebury over the weekend.  The Ephs failed to score a goal in the two games, dropping 7-0 and 2-0 shutouts at the hands of the Panthers. The women finished their regular season and head into the tournament as the fourth-seeded team.

“We are excited to have reached one of our goals for the season which was to finish top four in the competitive NESCAC conference and be able to host a quarterfinal game,” Head Coach Meghan Gillis said.

On Saturday, Middlebury came out on fire, taking the lead 1-0 at 7:48. Audrey Quirk scored off a shot from the top of the circle, assisted by Julia Wardwell and Maddie Winslow. The Panthers maintained momentum after their goal and went up 2-0 with a wrap-around goal by Rachael St. Clair at 9:11. Twenty seconds later, the Panthers scored to solidify their lead, as Haley LaFontaine rifled the puck in off a shot from the point.

Williams put more pressure on Middlebury after LaFontaine’s goal, getting several consecutive shots on net to pressure goalie Julia Neuburger. However, Neuburger stayed tough between the pipes to hold off the Ephs’ attempt at a comeback.

Poor play on the defensive end and penalties committed by Williams led to two second- period goals for Middlebury, effectively putting the game out of reach. The women also conceded two third-period goals to make the final game score of 7-0.

On Friday night, the women again lost to Middlebury, this time by a score of 2-0. Jessica Young scored the game winning goal for the Panthers at 6:29 in the first period.

Middlebury took advantage of the first penalty of the game, scoring 15 seconds into the power play to go up 1-0 in the first period. Young scored assisted by two of her teammates. Play continued up and down the ice after the Middlebury goal. At 10:29, the Ephs had scoring opportunities on the power play, but failed to convert a goal, as several shots went wide of the mark.

With 7 minutes left in the period, Julia Mini ’19 made a good glove save off a shot from the top of the circle to keep it a one-goal game. Then, with 2:30 left in the period, Mini made another great butterfly save off a shot from below the hashmarks, denying the Panthers a decisive goal.

The Ephs received a penalty at the end of the first that carried over to the beginning of the second period. With 10 seconds to go in the first period, Chelsey Stevenson ’17 blocked a slap shot to keep the puck out of the Williams end.

Williams began the second period displaying good defense, earning a successful penalty kill to stay in the game.

Mini stayed tough between the pipes throughout the second frame. At 6:33, she made a good blocker save off a shot close in to keep it a one goal game. Play picked up in the second half of the period. Tri-captain Hanna Beattie ’17 had a good look off a high shot from the point, but Neuburger made a glove save to stop play.

At 15:42, Middlebury forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Katherine Jackson carried the puck up the boards and scored a top shelf goal on Mini’s glove side to make it 2-0 for the Panthers. Williams went on the power play at 17:58, but Neuburger stayed big in net to keep it 2-0 for Middlebury going into the final period of the game.

The Ephs continued their fast paced play at the beginning of the third. At 7:20, the Ephs received a delayed penalty, so Middlebury pulled their goalie to get a 6-on- 5 advantage. Mini stayed big in net holding off the Panthers with several saves until Williams gained control of the puck. On the penalty kill, the Ephs showed good defensive and offensive play. At 7:48, Emily Krueger ’17 took a shot from the top of the slot, but Neuburger covered up the puck to stop play.

Playing physical hockey, the Panthers earned a penalty of their own for 30 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey. The score remained 2-0 after the penalties.

Play went back and forth until Williams went on the power play at 17:04, but the women were unable to score a goal to get back in the game. The Ephs pressured Middlebury when they pulled their goalie with one minute remaining in the game, but were unable to convert, leading to a 2-0 final tally. Mini made a total of 18 saves, while Neuburger earned a shutout with 24 saves.

“This weekend was a tough one against the No. 1 NESCAC team, Middlebury,” tri-captain Eliza Noyes ’16 said. “We played a strong game at home on Friday in the 2-0 loss and still felt that there was another level that we could play at. Obviously, Saturday was a disappointing result stemming from us not being ready to play in the first period.”

“We’ll take the lessons we learned from this weekend into playoffs,” added Noyes, “and we couldn’t feel more ready. This team keeps getting better and better, and we are excited to see what we can do in the NESCAC tournament.”

Gillis added, “Looking ahead to Trinity on Saturday we will continue to work on systems as a team. The great thing about post season play is that it is a fresh start and all teams currently sit with a 0-0-0 record.”

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