Women's Hockey Wins Seventh NESCAC Championship
March 4, 2012
Lauren Greer scored the game-winner 6:17 into overtime to lift Middlebury to its seventh NESCAC title with a 1-0 victory over Amherst. The Panthers (21-3-3) receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Jeffs (21-5-1) are likely to receive an at-large bid. This was the fourth NESCAC Championship meeting between the schools, with three of the games going into overtime. Amherst won in overtime in ’07, Middlebury took the ’09 game in OT, with the Panthers earning a 4-3 victory a year ago.
Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, with Middlebury holding a 9-3 shots advantage. The Panthers had a pair of power play opportunities in the period, but were not able to get on the board.
Following a failed Middlebury power play at the 5:03 mark of the second period, Maggie Melberg had a quick shot from close-range denied by Sinead Murphy (24 saves). Middlebury nearly broke the scoreless tie at 11:05, as Madeline Joyce carried the puck into the zone on the right side. She let go a hard wrister from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Murphy but clanked the crossbar. The Panthers had another great chance in the last minute, but a shot from Melberg after a feed from Hannah Bielawski in the slot was saved by Murphy. After being outshot 9-3 in the first period, Amherst returned the favor in the second.
Josie Fisher made a great move for Amherst and cut to the slot early in the second, with her backhander saved by Annabelle Jones (16 saves). Amherst had two more big chances midway through the second period with a blast from Tori Salmon hitting a teammate in front and a shot from Megan Doyen in the high slot going just wide at 13:40.
The Panthers put on some pressure in the final five minutes of the period, with some good looks. Lauren Greer’s shot at 14:04 from the left wing hit the post, while two attempts by Grace Waters were denied one minute later. Maria Bourdeau had a shot just miss the post with 3:05 remaining, while Sara Ugalde had a good look at her own rebound with 1:15 left to play. The Panthers went on a power play with 28 seconds left in the third, but could not take advantage as it was killed off early in overtime. Prior to overtime, Erin Babineau had a great look shorthanded with 20 seconds remaining, but the shot went into Jones’ chest for the save.
Middlebury nearly won the game 3:20 into the extra session, but a shot by Katie Sullivan was denied by Murphy after a nice dish from Fluke.
Greer’s game-winner came as she skated into the zone and let a blast go that was partially saved by Murphy. The puck dropped to the ice and slowly trickled across the goal line to give the Panthers the title. The goal tied Greer for the team-lead with her 13th of the season.