Women's Hockey One Win Away from Securing Top Seed
Second-ranked Amherst (15-2-4, 10-1-3 NESCAC) will wrap up its NESCAC slate when it travels to take on archrival Williams College (10-8-2, 7-4-1) for a pair of crucial conference games this weekend. Friday’s 7 p.m. game and Saturday’s 3 p.m. matchup will feature a live webcast ($6) and live audio broadcast ($10) over the internet. Fans can also listen to each game from any telephone for $25.
Alyssa Chwick '10 has recorded nine assists as one of Amherst's leaders on defense.
Amherst didn’t earn a single win over Williams in its first 11 varsity seasons, but the Lord Jeffs are riding a six-game winning streak against the Ephs dating back to the 2006-07 regular season. Amherst has scored 19 goals and allowed only three with a 151-83 advantage in shots in the past four meetings, but first-year head coach Marissa O’Neil—who helped guide the Jeffs to their first national title as an assistant coach—has led Williams to its best season in four years. The Ephs finished below the .500 mark in each of the past three years, but this year’s squad has already earned the most wins overall (10) and in conference play (7) since the 2005-06 season. The Ephs had a five-game winning streak snapped this past weekend with a 5-2 setback at Connecticut College.
This weekend’s games will feature only one player who ranks in the top 12 in the NESCAC in scoring, as each team features a balanced attack. While Amherst has a conference-high 11 players who have recorded at least 10 points this season (with all 19 skaters recording at least three points), Williams has 12 players with at least five points. Standing out as one of the NESCAC’s leaders in points is Amherst’s Geneva Lloyd ’13, who was named the conference’s Player of the Week on Monday. Lloyd has picked up at least one point in 10 of her past 11 games and leads the team with 19 points on three goals and 16 assists.
Michelle McGann '10 has five goals and nine assists this season, giving her 80 career points.
Two of Division III’s top goaltenders will take the ice this weekend, as Amherst’s Caroline Hu ’11 leads the nation in goals-against average (0.99) and the Ephs’ Sara Plunkett ’10 boasts the seventh highest save percentage (.939). The Jeffs also lead Division III in scoring defense (1.14 gpg) and rank third in penalty kill percentage (90.4) and fewest penalty minutes served per game (7.8). Williams picked up an impressive 3-2 win against fifth-ranked Trinity on Jan. 31, but the Ephs are just 1-4 against teams currently ranked in the top 10 in Division III.
With the Jeffs taking two games from Bowdoin and Middlebury suffering a surprising loss to Hamilton College this past weekend, Amherst has regained sole possession of first place in the NESCAC standings. Amherst is guaranteed a home quarterfinal game in the upcoming conference tournament and needs only one win to secure the top seed, but the Jeffs can finish as low as fourth in the standings. Williams is on pace to host its first NESCAC quarterfinal game since 2006 but will need to stay ahead of fifth-place Bowdoin (6-5-1 NESCAC). The Ephs could claim the No. 1 seed by winning the remainder of their games and getting help from other teams, but they can drop to as low as No. 6 if they stumble down the stretch.
Streaks and Milestones:
The Lord Jeffs did not host a postseason game in the first five years of the NESCAC Championship, but they are guaranteed to host at least a quarterfinal game for the fourth consecutive season. Amherst will be looking to play in its fourth NESCAC title game while striving for the fourth 20-win season in as many years. The Jeffs are unbeaten in their past 11 home games (8-0-3) dating back to last season’s win over Plattsburgh State in the NCAA Tournament. While Kate Dennett ’10 continues her quest for 100 career points (40-54-94), Hu will look to build on her shutout streak of 159:13.
Check out weekend previews for the men’s ice hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams. Photos from this year's sporting events are available on Amherst's flickr page.