Jeffs Dealt 4-3 Loss at Middlebury in NESCAC Finals
Tri-captains Megan Curry '11, Courtney Hanlon '11 and Braidie Campbell '11 accepted the runner-up trophy for Amherst.
Courtesy of Middlebury College
MIDDLEBURY, VT – The Amherst College women’s ice hockey team made a valiant comeback effort but fell short of winning its fourth NESCAC title, as top-seeded Middlebury College defended its home ice with a 4-3 victory over the Lord Jeffs Sunday afternoon at Kenyon Arena.
This is the sixth conference title for Middlebury (21-4-1), which receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Amherst drops to 19-6-2 and will tune into Monday’s NCAA selection show at 10 a.m. with hopes of receiving an at-large bid.
The second-seeded Lord Jeffs were making their fifth consecutive trip to the conference finals and had won two of their three titles on Middlebury’s home ice, but the Panthers used a three-goal second period to pull away and create a deficit that was too large for Amherst to overcome.
Middlebury took a 1-0 lead 4:27 into the game when Madeline Joyce finished off a flurry of shots in front of the net for a power-play tally, marking the only goal of the opening period.
The Panthers were awarded a penalty shot at the 3:34 mark of the second period after the Jeffs were whistled for a delay of game infraction. Maggie Melberg took the shot but was denied by Caroline Hu ’11 (Cerritos, CA) with a pad save on her backhand.
Amherst tied the game at 1-1 five and a half minutes later with a power-play goal of its own. Geneva Lloyd ’13 (Calgary, Alberta) made a nice pass from behind the net to Ellen Swiontkowski ’12 (Minnetonka, MN), who capitalized for her 10th goal of the year.
Middlebury scored three goals in a 5:04 span in the second period to take a commanding 4-1 advantage. Melberg won a face-off back to Heather Marrison at the left point, with her shot getting past a screened Hu for the 2-1 lead at 13:58. After Sara Uglade intercepted a pass and scored from the right side with a wrister into the top left corner of the net, Joyce found a cutting Maggie Woodward, who scored from her knees to make it a 4-1 game with 58 seconds left in the second.
Amherst made it a two-goal game at 11:38 of the third, when Stephanie Clegg ’12 (Woburn, MA) scored from the left face-off dot. The Jeffs cut the lead to 4-3 with 4:10 remaining, as Lloyd scored on her third attempt after her first two shots were denied by Alexi Bloom on the power play.
Amherst kept coming with pressure, going on a power play with just 56 seconds left in regulation. The Jeffs pulled Hu moments later, looking for a six-on-four goal to tie the game. Middlebury held strong, giving up just one shot on net late as the Panthers held on for the victory.
Amherst held a slight 25-24 shots advantage in the game, with Bloom making 22 saves and Hu stopping 20 Middlebury attempts.
BOX SCORE * NCAA SELECTION SHOW
Quarterfinal Round – Saturday, Feb. 26
No. 1 Middlebury def. No. 8 Williams, 6-2
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 7 Colby, 5-0
No. 3 Trinity def. No. 6 Hamilton, 3-1
No. 4 Bowdoin def. No. 5 Conn. College, 2-1
Semifinal Round – Saturday, Mar. 5
No. 1 Middlebury def. No. 4 Bowdoin, 4-0
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 3 Trinity, 4-3 (OT)
Championship Game – Sunday, Mar. 6
No. 1 Middlebury def. No. 2 Amherst, 4-3