Women’s Hockey Storms into Semis
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
Last weekend, the women’s hockey team finished the regular season with six straight wins after beating Norwich University 3-1 in their last regular season game of the year. With the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Championship, Amherst was well-prepared to take on the eighth-seeded Colby College at Orr Rink on Saturday afternoon.

Skating out to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells”, the Lord Jeffs were revved up and ready for a bit of revenge. In late January, the Jeffs had their 53-game unbeaten streak in conference play snapped by the Mules in a 3-2 loss on the road. This loss gave Amherst all the motivation they needed for their first playoff game, and it was too much for Colby to handle.

In the first period, there was simply no comparison between the two sides. Amherst put 18 shots on goal in the opening period, creating havoc in the offensive zone for the full 20 minutes. Amherst got the scoring started on the power play, with Geneva Lloyd ’13 scoring her seventh goal of the season after just 13 minutes of play. Randi Zukas ’11 and Courtney Hanlon ’11 contributed with assists on the play. The period ended with the Jeffs up 1-0, but this was just an appetizer to the main course.

As the Jeffs went back on the ice, there was a feeling that the offensive pressure that they had put on the Mules in the first period would prove more fruitful in the next period. This turned out to be the case very quickly. Michelle McGann ’10 scored at around the two-minute mark — the eventual game winner. This was just the beginning of the scoring barrage, as Amherst would tack on an additional seven goals for the period. Stephanie Clegg ’12, Josie Fisher ’12, Hanlon, Ellen Swiontkowski ’12, Emily Vitale ’12, Braidie Campbell ’11 and Megan Doyen ’13 would each score a goal for the Jeffs in the second period.

“The second period was phenomenal,” said head coach Jim Plumer. “Our offense was starting to click. We were getting production from all lines, which was really important.”

Senior tri-captain Kate Dennett tallied two assists in the second period, which gave her 100 career points over the course of her Amherst career. She is only the fifth player in program history to accomplish the feat. For the season, Dennett has six goals and 15 assists.

Amherst would go on to score one more goal in the third period, coming off the stick of Campbell, before finishing the game with the 10-1 win. Amherst tallied 27 points for the game, pulverizing the Mules and effectively ending their season while atoning for their only conference loss.

The Amherst players were very pleased with Saturday’s result, but they also realize that they have only scratched the surface of what they’re looking to accomplish.

“Next weekend will be a battle in every respect; all four teams are fierce competitors, three of which are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and every game will be a showdown,” said Hanlon. “We are trying to stay focused, stay healthy and take our momentum from this week’s game into next week’s.”

At this time last year, Amherst found themselves in a familiar situation, advancing to the final game of the NESCAC Championship. Their loss to Middlebury that year gave the team extra motivation in the NCAA tournament, in which they went on to win the National Championship. The motivation has stuck with the team, and will be critical in next weekend’s match with Bowdoin.

“We are all really excited for the entire Final Four weekend and I think we all want to avenge the loss to Middlebury in the NESCAC finals last year because that really was a heartbreaker,” said Fisher. “But we have to make sure that we don’t overlook Bowdoin because it’s going to be a tough semifinal game.”

The Jeffs won’t be taking anything for granted, as they are well aware of how different the playoffs are compared to the regular season.

“We are excited for this weekend and to play Bowdoin,” said Dennett. “They are a solid team, and we are going to have to play our best to make it to the NESCAC finals. At this point, we can’t underestimate anyone.”

“This is the playoffs, and we need to be prepared for their best,” said Plumer. “Our motivation and great veteran leadership should really help us out.”

The Jeffs will look to continue their domination this weekend when they take to the ice against fifth-seeded Bowdoin College on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Orr Rink. If they beat the Polar Bears on Saturday afternoon, they will advance to the NESCAC Championship Final against the winner of the Trinity-Middlebury game, which would be held on Sunday at 2 p.m., also at home, thanks to Amherst’s No.1 seed.

Issue 17, Submitted 2010-03-04 23:43:23