Women’s Hockey Falls to Top-Seeded Middlebury 4-1 in NESCAC Final
Issue   |   Tue, 03/07/2017 - 20:16
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Miriam Eickhoff ’19 keyed Amherst’s defensive performance in the NESCAC tournament, as well as adding three shots on goal against Conn. College.

The Amherst women’s ice hockey team competed in the NESCAC Championship tournament last weekend, March 3-4. After a 2-0 win in the semifinals against Connecticut College on Saturday, the purple and white fell 4-1 to Middlebury on Sunday.

On Saturday, No. 5 Amherst traveled to Middlebury to play second-seeded Connecticut College in the NESCAC Championship semifinals. The team came away with a 2-0 win, marking the second consecutive shutout for goalie Sabrina Dobbins ’18.

Though the Camels outshot the purple and white 13-6 in the first, Amherst was able to convert two of those shots into goals.

Midway through the first, at the 11:46 mark, Jocelyn Hunyadi ’19 one-timed a rebound off of a low slap shot from Alex Toupal ’18, giving Amherst a 1-0 lead. Just five minutes later, Katelyn Pantera ’19 capitalized on a purple and white power play, finding the top shelf over Conn. College goalie Katherine Chester’s pad off a pass from Toupal.

In the second period, Amherst outshot the Camels 9-6, but neither team was able to find the back of the net.

The third period finished scoreless as well. Conn. College’s best chance came with six minutes remaining in the game. Samantha Estes redirected Kate Kohl’s slap shot on goal, but Dobbins smothered the puck and sealed the 2-0 shutout win for the purple and white.

In the NESCAC championship game on Sunday, Amherst faced off against the weekend’s host, first-seeded Middlebury.

The purple and white put the first tally on the board 12:46 into the opening period. Sarah Culhane ’17 received a pass from Katie Savage ’19 at the blue line and fired a snap shot on goal. Panther goalie Julia Neuburger blocked the shot, but Culhane one-timed her own rebound into the bottom corner of the net. The rest of the first period did not feature a goal.

Middlebury then tied the game at 1-1 six minutes into the second period on a goal scored by Janka Hlinka. Less than three minutes later, the Panthers’ Jessica Young found the back of the net for her 35th point of the season.

Hunyadi nearly evened the score at two 10:48 into the third after beating a defender and opening a path to the net, but her shot sailed just wide of the goal. Lizzie Sheline extended Middlebury’s lead to 3-1 with 5:45 left in the game.

The purple and white maintained pressure, with Emma Greise ’18 and Culhane almost finding the back of the net. However, neither skater was able to score, and the Panthers clinched the 4-1 win on an empty net goal with under a minute to play.

Though Amherst outshot Middlebury in all three periods, the purple and white were unable put more than one puck past the stellar Neuburger.

“It never feels great to lose a championship, but to see our team come from fifth to second in the NESCAC was amazing and a testimony to the heart of this team,” senior captain Lynndy Smith said. “This was by far the closest team I have been on while at Amherst, and I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished and so excited to see all the great things this team is bound to do in the coming years. I’ve loved every second of this season and could not be happier to call this group of girls my family. They are truly a force to be reckoned with.”

After failing to recieve an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the team has completed its 2016-2017 season. With a final record of 14-8-5, the purple and white have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to next season.