Baranek Nets Winner as Jeffs Down Williams, 1-0

Baranek2 Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Sophomore forward Courtney Baranek (West Babylon, N.Y.) netted the game winner with just 5:58 left in regulation to lift the third-ranked Amherst women's hockey team to a 1-0 victory over archrival Williams.

With the win, Amherst improved to 17-3-0 (11-1-0 NESCAC) and secured a home quarterfinal game in the upcoming conference championship. The Lord Jeffs, winners of seven straight, also moved to 12-0 against the Ephs over their past 12 meetings, while dropping Williams to 9-11-0 overall (5-7-0 NESCAC).

Amherst senior forward Emily Vitale (Cheshire, Conn.) tested Chloe Billadeau '15 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the opening period, but the Williams netminder made a sprawling glove save to deny the visitors the go-ahead goal.

The Eph forwards moved into the offensive zone and peppered goaltender Sinead Murphy (Rochester, N.Y.) with shots several times during the period, but the senior remained steady between the pipes, keeping the home team off the board in a scoreless first. 

During a power play late in the second period, Cristina Bravi '14 fired three quick shots at Murphy, but the Amherst goaltender proved up to the challenge and turned away all three tries to keep the Jeffs even. The Jeffs nearly broke the tie with 46 seconds remaining in the period, as they hit the crossbar before heading into the locker room with a 20-9 shot advantage. 

It appeared that the Lord Jeffs would take the lead early in the third period when an Amherst forward wristed a shot that Billadeau turned away into the corner. Tracking down the loose puck and backhanding a try that deflected off the inside of the far post and along the goal line, Amherst caught Billadeau out of position, but the Williams goalie dove back into the crease and swept the puck off the line with her glove to prevent the score. 

The Jeffs finally broke through with 5:58 remaining in the game as Barrett McBride '14 (Glenview, Ill.) and Ellen Swiontkowski '12 (Minnetonka, Minn.) worked the puck around Eph defenders before finding Baranek on the left side. The sophomore carried the puck into the left circle, then wristed a shot that deflected off Billadeau's shoulder before finding its way into the Williams net. 

Amherst finished with a decisive 32-20 shot advantage, as Billadeau made 31 saves and Murphy (9-2-0) stopped 20 shots for her fourth shutout of the season. 

The Lord Jeffs will return to action next Friday when they host Trinity College.