Amherst Ready for NESCAC Championship Run

Vitale2 Contact: Ben Badua

AMHERST, Mass. - The Amherst women's hockey team will travel to Middlebury this weekend to continue its quest for a fourth NESCAC title. The second-seeded Lord Jeffs will square off with third-seeded Bowdoin College in a semifinal on Saturday, Mar. 3 at 4 p.m.

TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets are priced at $5 for adults, $3 for students and are on sale now on the Middlebury website. You may also call 802-443-6433 or stop by the McCullough box office during normal business hours. Tickets will also be available at the door.

LIVE COVERAGE: Each of this weekend's three games will feature a free webcast courtesy of Middlebury Athletics.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Amherst (20-4-1) enters this weekend's NESCAC Final Four on a roll, going 10-1-1 over its last 12, culminating in a 3-0 win over Connecticut College in the conference quarterfinals. Despite having dropped two of its last four games, Bowdoin (12-9-4) also finished the year strong, going 5-2-1 over its final eight regular season games before advancing to the semifinals on junior Stephanie Lundy's game winner with just 21 seconds left in overtime of its NESCAC Championship opener with Williams.

SEASON SERIES: Posting a 10-1-1 record against Bowdoin over the last five years, Amherst closed out a strong regular season with a weekend set in Brunswick, Maine on Feb. 17-18. The Lord Jeffs opened series with a 5-2 win before rallying from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 tie the following afternoon. 

Josie Fisher '12 (Norwich, Vt.) netted a pair of goals in the opener, with Ellen Swiontkowski '12 (Minnetonka, Minn.) adding two assists. Senior goaltender Sinead Murphy '12 (Rochester, Minn.) made 29 saves in the win. First-year Emily Flom (Grosse Point Farms, Mich.) and Emily Vitale '12 (Chesire, Conn.) helped Amherst even its second showdown with Bowdoin, tallying a pair of second period goals.

Amherst is 3-1 all-time against Bowdoin in NESCAC Championship play, with the Lord Jeffs edging out the Polar Bears 3-2 in overtime during the 2009-10 semifinals.

IF AMHERST WINS: With a win, Amherst would advance to a sixth-straight league final, having won championships in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Posting a 14-7 overall record in tournament play, the Jeffs are 3-0 against #4 Trinity, defeating the Bantams 2-1 (OT) in the 2010 final, but are just 1-3 against host Middlebury, dropping championship games to the Panthers in 2011 and 2009.  

In 2011-12, Amherst split both of its series with this year's other semifinalists, trading a pair of 3-2 decisions with Middlebury on Jan. 13-14 before rebounding from a 3-2 loss to Trinity on Feb. 10 with a 2-1 triumph thenext day.

IF BOWDOIN WINS: The Polar Bears would make their first appearance in the league final since 2006 with a win over Amherst on Saturday. In search of a third conference crown, Bowdoin is 2-0 against Trinity this season, outscoring the Bantams 10-2 in the two-game set, but 0-2 against Middlebury, having suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses to the Panthers. Tied at 1-1 in its opener with Middlebury, Bowdoin surrendered the game winner with just 1:34 left in regulation before allowing the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 loss in their second meeting with just 1:18 left on the clock.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Bowdoin and Amherst feature two of the top three highest scoring offenses in the league. Amherst (ranked second) has relied on a balanced attack to kick start an often explosive offense that features 10 players with at least 10 points. 

Swiontkowski leads a trio of Jeffs with at least 20 points, notching 11 goals and 15 assists on the year. Junior Geneva Lloyd (Calgary, Alberta) and Fisher have helped shoulder the offensive burden with 23 points apiece, while Flom and Vitale have come on of late, combining for six goals and an assist over the last three games.

Also peaking at the right time are Bowdoin's leading scorers Kayte Holtz '13 (32 pts, 15 G, 7 A) and Kim Tess-Wanat '13 (26 pts, 14 G, 12 A), who will look to test the Lord Jeffs' top ranked defensive unit. Holtz has netted three goals and one assist over her last three games, while Tess-Wanat has tallied a goal and two assists over the same span.

2012 NESCAC Women's Hockey Championship
Quarterfinal Round - Saturday, Feb. 25
No. 1 Middlebury def. No. 8 Colby, 5-1
No. 2 Amherst def. No. 7 Conn. College, 3-0
No. 3 Bowdoin def. No. 6 Williams, 3-2 (ot)
No. 4 Trinity def. No. 5 Hamilton, 3-1

Semifinal Round - Saturday, Mar. 3
No. 4 Trinity at No. 1 Middlebury - 1 p.m.
No. 3 Bowdoin vs. No. 2 Amherst - 4 p.m.

Championship Game - Sunday, Mar. 4