Athletics

Amherst Wraps up Weekend with 2-0 Win Over Wesleyan

Sinead Murphy
First-year goaltender Sinead Murphy earned the shutout in her first collegiate start.
AMHERST, MA – The fourth-ranked Amherst College women’s hockey team improved to 8-0-0 in the NESCAC with a 2-0 win over Little Three rival Wesleyan University Saturday afternoon at Orr Rink. The Lord Jeffs move to 8-2-0 overall, while the Cardinals drop to 2-8-1 (1-4-1 NESCAC).

Amherst’s winning streak against Wesleyan increased to 10 games, while its unbeaten streak against conference opponents increased to a remarkable 40 games. The Lord Jeffs are now 33-0-7 against NESCAC teams in their last 40 chances, as they have not lost to a conference foe since Dec. 2, 2006.

Fresh off Friday night’s 48-save performance that led Wesleyan to a 3-2 win at Connecticut College, senior goaltender Rachel Stemerman picked up right where she left off by fending off an early Amherst attack. The Lord Jeffs applied heavy pressure in the first 10 minutes of the game but were held scoreless despite several good looks and a power play opportunity.

On the Jeffs’ second power play chance of the game, which came during the 11th minute of the opening period, junior Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) set herself up perfectly for a wraparound goal, but she lost control of the puck in the crease and could not put Amherst on the board.

The Cardinals were whistled for their third penalty with 4:51 remaining before the first intermission, and this time Amherst managed to convert. After working the puck around the perimeter, sophomore Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) sent in a pass from behind the net and found first-year Stephanie Clegg (Woburn, MA) at the point. Clegg’s shot appeared to be stopped by Stemerman, but the puck trickled in to give the hosts a 1-0 lead with 4:17 showing on the clock.

Despite being drastically out-shot in the first 20 minutes, Wesleyan headed into the first intermission trailing by only one goal, as Stemerman stopped 23 shots to keep her team within striking distance.

Two-and-a-half minutes into the second period, Amherst was called for its second penalty of the frame and Wesleyan had nearly a full minute of a 5-on-3 advantage to work with. First-year Sinead Murphy (Rochester, MN), who was making her first collegiate start between the pipes, was up to the challenge and kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard to preserve the 1-0 lead.

At the 10-minute mark of the second frame, Wesleyan put together its best offensive sequence of the day. After the Cardinals failed to take advantage of a pair of 2-on-1 breakaways, senior tri-captain Hannah Jackson fired a shot high and wide. Seconds later, Jackson received the puck at the doorstep on a pass from behind the net, but Amherst’s rookie net-minder knocked the shot away to end the threat.

The Jeffs responded when, during 4-on-4 action, Hanlon ripped a nice shot from the right wing, but she was denied by the far post. The pressure remained when senior Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI) was left alone with Stemerman, but the veteran goalie came up big once again to put a stop to a flurry of Amherst offense.

Amherst’s persistence finally paid off when Karega scored her first goal of the season by beating Stemerman to give the Jeffs a 2-0 lead with 3:20 to play in the second period. Assists were credited to Hanlon and first-year Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT), as the hosts headed into the locker room with their 2-0 lead in tact.

Nearly 15 minutes into a scoreless third period, juniors Michelle McGann (New Berlin, WI) and Molly Malloy (Stamford, CT) found themselves on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Just before reaching the crease, McGann sent her classmate a pass from the left side, but Stemerman picked up another timely save and denied Malloy from point-blank range.

Despite another power play opportunity for Amherst in the final two minutes of regulation, neither team scored in the third frame as the Jeffs wrapped up their 2-0 victory. Murphy stopped 11 shots to earn the shutout and her first collegiate victory, while Stemerman concluded an impressive weekend by making 54 saves in the tough loss.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Friday, Jan. 16, for a showdown with top-ranked Plattsburgh State. The highly-anticipated meeting will be featured as the USCHO.com Game of the Week, with a live video Webcast and audio broadcast available. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

SCORING SUMMARY
First Period
Goal: #15 Stephanie Clegg (PP)
Assist: #6 Courtney Hanlon
Time: 15:43

Second Period
Goal: #13 Tarasai Karega
Assists: #6 Courtney Hanlon, #3 Emily Vitale
Time: 16:40

BOX SCORE