Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The second-seeded Amherst women's hockey team advanced to the NESCAC Championship game for the sixth-straight year with a 1-0 victory over Bowdoin in a semifinal showdown at Middlebury College's Kenyon Arena.
In search of the program's fourth conference title, the Jeffs improved to 21-4-1 overall and will face host Middlebury in the championship game scheduled for Sunday, Mar. 4 at 2 p.m.
The Panthers hold a 3-1 edge over the Lord Jeffs in NESCAC Tournament play, including a pair of wins over Amherst in the 2011 and 2009 championship games. The Jeffs, who also dropped a quarterfinal match-up to Middlebury in 2003, won their first-ever league title with a 2-1 triple overtime win in the 2007 championship.
Following a scoreless first period, Amherst took a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds into the second, when first year Tori Salmon (Batavia, N.Y.) carried the puck into the zone from the blue line, before cutting to the slot and scoring with a backhander.
The Jeffs nearly struck again at 5:37, but Bowdoin goaltender Kayla Lessard '13 denied shots from Emily Vitale '12 (Chesire, Conn.) and Courtney Baranek '14 (West Babylon, N.Y.) from close range. Looking to pull the Polar Bears even, Bowdoin's Kim Tess-Wanat '13 had a good look at 9:02 of the middle frame, but her backhander went just over the crossbar.
With Amherst looking to add to their tally while on the power play early in the third, Lessard turned away Ellen Swiontkowski '12 (Minnetonka, Minn.) after a great pass from Salmon.
Looking to generate a scoring chance of its own on the man-up advantage at 14:15, Tess-Wanat found open space on the left wing, but ripped a slap shot just wide. Back on the power play at the 16:35 mark with a chance to tie the game, Bowdoin pushed into the Amherst zone but could not slide one past senior goaltender Sinead Murphy (Rochester, Minn.).
Still searching for the equalizer in the waning moments of regulation, the Polar Bears pulled Lessard late, but were forced to put her back in the net after taking a penalty at the 18:32 mark.
Murphy finished with 16 saves to improve to 13-2-1 on the season, while Lessard made 22 stops in the loss.