Women’s Hockey Falls to Middlebury in Finals of NESCAC Tournament
Issue   |   Tue, 03/06/2018 - 21:49
Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios
Senior Alex Toupal finished her collegiate career, with 117 points. En route to 65 goals this season, Toupal recorded a +/- of 20.

This weekend the third-seeded Amherst women’s ice hockey team travelled north to Middlebury, Vermont for the semifinals and final round of the NESCAC tournament.

The matches were held in familiar territory, as the Panthers have hosted the last seven NESCAC championship matches, winning all but three of those conference titles.

In their first matchup against No. 2 Conn. College, Amherst defender Miriam Eickhoff ’19 scored the opening goal 11 minutes into the first stanza of play.

Capitalizing on a quick breakaway, Eickhoff used her speed to collect a rebound off the shot by first-year Natalie Lima and put the Mammoths up 1-0.

With time winding down in the first period, NESCAC-leading goal-scorer Alex Toupal ’18 collected a pass from first-year defender Mia DelRosso and sent a rocket into the back of the net, securing a 2-0 Amherst lead headed into the first intermission.

Toupal picked up right where she left off in the second period, sending a backhander past the Conn. College goalie to widen the margin to 3-0 after Savage had dished her a puck in front of the net.

Despite the Mammoths consistent pressure on the Camels defense, Conn. College’s Lauren Helm team managed to poke one into the net at the very end of the second period to bring the score to 3-1.

However, Amherst was able to hang on, claiming the win and moving on to the finals, despite the higher-seeded Camels leading 37-19 in shots.

Senior Bailey Plaman had a fantastic day in net, recording 36 saves and anchoring the Mammoths’ defense.

The very next day, Amherst faced the reigning champions and host of the tournament, Middlebury.

The two teams had met in NESCAC tournament play in each of the previous two years, and the Panthers had prevailed both times at home.

With a chip on their shoulder, the Mammoths came out strong, recording 10 shots in the first period and playing pretty evenly with their rival.

Middlebury’s Jessica Young snagged the first lead of the day, however, nine minutes into the second period.

Despite several chances by the Amherst offense, the Panthers struck again in the third period to take what proved to be an insurmountable two-goal lead.

In a last-ditch effort to generate opportunities, the Mammoths pulled Plaman for the final two minutes of regulation.

Unfortunately, Amherst couldn’t find a goal, and history repeated itself for the third time in Vermont.

With the loss against Middlebury, the Mammoths fell to 16-7-4 record on the year.

Their record ultimately wasn’t good enough to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.

However, to cap off the otherwise successful season, both Toupal and Eickhoff nabbed spots on All-NESCAC teams.

Toupal earned first team accolades, while Eickhoff was named to the second team.