Hockey drops OT heartbreaker at NESCACs

Candy Lu ’18 anchored the Eph defense last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Candy Lu ’18 anchored the Eph defense last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Women’s ice hockey (12-12-1, 8-9-0 in the NESCAC) fell to Trinity 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Tournament. This game marked the third matchup of the Ephs and the Bantams this season after splitting games with a 4-0 Bantam win and a 4-2 Ephs victory in early February.

Heading into the opening round of the NESCAC Tournament, Williams was seeded fourth and Trinity was seeded fifth. The women entered Saturday’s game having lost to Oswego State once and to Middlebury twice since beating Trinity in February. The Bantams’ last loss in their final 13 contests of the season came at the hands of the Ephs back on Feb. 6, but since that game the Bantams have fashioned a 4-0-1 ledger, which is among the best marks in the league.

This matchup also marks the third straight year for which Williams has faced Trinity in the quarterfinals, with Trinity winning the game 1-0 last year and Williams winning the game 3-2 in 2014. Williams is making its 14th quarterfinal appearance in 15 years and was looking to advance its second semifinal appearance in 10 years.

Trinity has been one of the hottest teams in the NESCAC over the last 13 games, posting a record of 10-1-2.

The Ephs came out of the locker room with a flurry of strong offensive play, culminating in an early goal at 1:54 into the first period. The puck hit a funny partition on the boards and Natalie Bernstein ’16 was there to slide it past Trinity goaltender, Sydney Belinskas. This was Bernstein’s fifth goal of the season and she was assisted by Michaela Levine ’16.

The rest of the period played evenly, with both teams making good offensive rushes and solid defensive plays to keep the score 1-0 going into the second period.

Alex Lovaas ’18 had a late first period checking penalty that was carried over from the first period, and Trinity quickly capitalized on this opportunity. They scored in the first minute of the second with 0:57 on the clock. Bantam Emma Tani caught the side netting to make her ninth goal of this season. Trinity has scored on 14.3 percent of its power plays, while Williams has scored 9.6 percent.

Neither team could set up successful offensive plays with both defensive lines and goaltenders playing strong. The Ephs had three power play opportunities but could not convert on any of them. Williams led in shots on goal 21 to 13 at the end of the second period.

In the third period, goalie Christina Cleroux ’18 and Trinity’s goalie made strong saves, keeping both teams above the water. Both offensive lines were sharp during the third period but, again, neither could finish off the shots. These failed shots sent the game into overtime.

Overtime began with both teams coming out of the locker room fired up and getting early shots off but, ultimately, Trinity’s Shannon Farrell, assisted by Hannah Oganeku, scored the winning goal at 9:23 into overtime, sending the Bantams to the NESCAC semifinals for the second year in a row. The Bantams won the tournament last year.

In conference play, this season the Ephs were led in scoring by Levine who has scored six goals and assisted on eight for a total of 14 points.

Their final contest was the fourth game that Williams had lost in a row. Although the team has traded wins and losses all season without gaining a long streak in either direction, this marked the longest streak the Ephs had besides a four-game winning streak in January.

This game marks the end of the Ephs’ 2015-2016 season. The team graduates Bernstein, Levine, Hadley Desmueles ’16, tri-captain Talia Simon ’16 and tri-captain Eliza Noyes ’16.

“Saturday was a great game and a really tough overtime loss. We couldn’t be prouder of how the team played or how we came together this season. At the end of the day, games like Saturday are just the nature of the sport of hockey, especially in playoff sudden death overtimes. Bounces can go your way or go the other team’s way, and on Saturday they went Trinity’s way. This season shows such great things for the future of the program both on and off the ice, and the seniors can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish next year,” said Noyes and Simon.

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