WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Coming off a 2-1 victory over the Colby Mules last Saturday, the Williams College women's ice hockey team hosted the Castleton State Spartans Tuesday evening. Castleton entered Lansing Chapman Rink tonight following a tight 2-1 loss last weekend to Salve Regina.
The Ephs needed overtime tonight to finish off the Spartans. With a solid effort from junior goalie Rachel Nguyen (Hermosa Beach, CA), Williams College fended off a solid Castleton State hockey team. Nguyen's 27 saves kept the Ephs in the game all the way to overtime when Gabby Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) was able to find the back of the net to clinch the victory.
With the win the Ephs improve to 8-8 on the year and improve thier home ice record to 5-3. Castleton is now 7-7-3 this season.
It would be a tight contest from the beginning, with much back-and-forth play in the opening 10 minutes of play. Neither defense allowed much to happen offensively, and it would take over 30 minutes of play before the Ephs got on the board first.
With just over nine minutes remaining in the first period, the Ephs would see a good scoring chance. Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) brought the puck up on the right side and slid a pass to Gabby Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) in front of the goal. Vukasin would get a good shot off, but Jess Cameron between the pipes would record the save to keep the contest scoreless.
An Eph penalty at the 11:49 mark would give the visiting team a man-up chance, but Williams goaltender Rachel Nguyen (Hermosa Beach, CA) and the penalty kill unit would remain relentless and prevent the Spartans from capitalizing on the opportunity.
Both teams would set up scoring chances in the final minutes of the frame, but each defense refused to budge. The opening 20 minutes would conclude in similar fashion to the way it began, scoreless and with Williams posting slightly more shots on goal, 13 to Castleton's 10.
The Ephs would get their turn at a man-up chance, and would prove to be much more effective on the powerplay. Senior captain Sam Weinstein broke the stalemate at the 6:46 mark to give the Ephs a slight 1-0 advantage.
The Ephs worked the puck around the perimeter nicely before Bravi found Weinstein, who sent a low wrister from the left wing that beat Cameron short side. Caitlin Conlon (Sudbury, MA) also helped on the goal.
Despite pressure from the Spartans and a third Williams penalty coming with 26 seconds remaining, the Ephs stayed strong in their defensive end to close out the second period and retain their 1-0 edge.
Headed into the final 20 minutes of play, Castleton's man-up chance would quickly evaporate with a penalty of their own, giving the Ephs a 5-on-4 advantage for 48 seconds. Williams kept the pressure high and kept Cameron busy in goal, but did not extend their lead.
The Spartans saw one of their best chances at equalizing the contest with 9:05 to play, when a Spartan ripped a shot that hit the top cross bar.
Castleton's discipline eventually paid off at the 13:38 mark, when freshman Nicoline Jensen of the Spartans notched an unassisted goal. She slipped the puck past Nguyen, stunting the Eph goalie's shutout effort and evening up the battle at one goal apiece.
Jensen's tally would send the game into extra time.
"We have to give credit to Castleton because they kept playing through the whole third period and they had a lot of chances and finally capitalized on one. Heading into overtime we just had to refocus and focus on the simple things," commented Head Coach Meghan Gillis.
The Ephs would refocus as Gillis hoped, and took just under four minutes to clinch the game. The game-winning goal came from Vukasin with 1:20 remaining when she got a quick, low shot on the net that slipped past Cameron for the win. She was set up by teammate Talia Simon (Carlisle, MA).
Gillis commented afterwards, "It was a good all around team effort. We played really well at points and not so well at others, so we're going to work on building consistency headed into the weekend."
Nguyen put together a solid effort between the pipes, stopping 26 of 27 shots. Her counterpart, Cameron, stopped 35 shots on net.
The Ephs have a challenge ahead of them this weekend, facing Bowdoin, the number one team in the league. The puck drops Friday at 7pm.