Women’s Ice Hockey Splits Weekend, Earns Second Seed in NESCACs
Issue   |   Wed, 02/25/2015 - 01:04

The women’s ice hockey team capped off a long regular season this weekend with a win and a loss against Bowdoin. Their win on Saturday, 4-3 and loss on Sunday, 3-2, left the Jeffs with a 16-4-4 record for the regular season. In addition, the Jeffs remained second in the highly competitive NESCAC with a record of 10-3-3 behind rival Middlebury. Coming into the last weekend of the season, the Jeffs knew they would have to execute their game with few mistakes, as Bowdoin is a talented team.

“Bowdoin is a great team that has been to the NESCAC finals for the last two years in a row, winning the Championship two years ago, so we knew we were in for two tough games,” said coach Jeffrey Matthews.

On Saturday, Bowdoin came out firing and the Jeffs found themselves in an unusual position in the second period, behind by two goals. Bowdoin’s Schuyler Nardelli scored for the Polar Bears just 16 seconds into the first period. Another Polar Bear, Miranda Bell made the score 2-0 just five minutes into the second period. Needing to jumpstart their talented offense, Eileen Harris ’16 took the puck down the right side of the ice and snuck the puck past the Bowdoin goalie. Caitlyn Ryan ’17 and Kristen Molina ’18 were credited with assists on the goal. The goal gave the Jeffs a burst of energy that would last throughout the period. Erin Martin ’16 and Ryan would both score by the end of the period, giving the Jeffs the lead 3-2. In the third period, the Jeffs edged Bowdoin in shots 9-7. First-year Alex Toupal added her eighth goal of the season during the third, off of an assist from senior captain Tori Salmon. Bowdoin scored in the third off a power play, but Amherst’s strong defense was able to secure the win 4-3.

“Saturday we never gave up. We went down 2-0 in the second period and could have easily lost faith, but we stuck to our game plan and played for each other,” Harris said. “Having a come-back victory made the win that much better. We played with heart and determination and we were rewarded for it.”

Sunday was a special day for the team as the Jeffs celebrated their senior day. The class of 2015 features five talented players each who bring different leadership qualities and skills to the ice. “All of the seniors this year have been vital to our success,” Harris said. “They each have their own distinct qualities as players and people but they are all dedicated to the team equally. Their competitive drive has fueled our on-ice success this season.”

The 3-2 loss against Bowdoin also marked a big accomplishment for Salmon, who notched her 100th point in the game. Salmon assisted on both of the Jeff goals during the match, one by Harris and one by Toupal.

“It felt pretty similar to all my other points until I reached the bench,” Salmon said. “I had girls tackling me from behind, yelling congratulations, and screaming “you did it”! It was pretty incredible to have the support of my teammates like that.”
The Jeffs once again started out the game down 2-0, but came back within one goal twice during the game. In the end the Jeffs were unable to find the back of the net, giving Bowdoin the win 3-2. Despite the loss, the Jeffs were happy to celebrate the senior class and the end of the regular season.

“There is absolutely no way to describe us all,” Salmon said of her class. “We differ in personality, height, country of origin, majors, etc., but we all want the same thing. We want to be champions, and I think that is pretty special.”

“Our coaching staff is proud of their accomplishments, and are excited to follow their progress beyond Amherst,” Matthews added.

The season is not over yet, and the Jeffs now move into the highly competitive NESCAC playoffs. With their second place standing, the Jeffs won the right to host the seventh place team Colby this upcoming Saturday.

“The postseason is a new season, and I think that is what makes it exciting for everyone,” Salmon said. “Anything can happen in the postseason.”

The Jeffs lost last season against Colby in the quarterfinals of the tournament, and this year they will be looking for revenge.

“After being upset last year by Colby I know this year we will have some extra fuel going into Saturday’s game against them,” Harris said. “It is an exciting opportunity and I know we will do everything to be prepared for it.” The game starts at 7 p.m. in Orr Rink.