MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Purple & White outshot the Panthers in all three periods to own a 31-22 edge in shot differential, however they were unable to respond to a two-goal second and third period by the home team as the fifth-seeded Amherst College women's ice hockey tell fell to top-seeded Middlebury College, 4-1 in Sunday afternoon's NESCAC Finals matchup at Kenyon Arena.
With the loss, Amherst's overall ledger falls to 14-8-5, while Middlebury improves to 19-6-2 on the season. Amherst will await a potential at-large bid to the national postseason, while the Panthers clinch the NESCAC's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Championship and will learn their quarterfinal opponent following the selection show Monday.
Lizzie Sheline tested Amherst goalkeeper Sabrina Dobbins '18 early in the contest, streaking into the zone on a 1-on-1 in the fifth minute of action. Dobbins came out on top in the play, stonewalling Sheline's initial shot and her attempt on the rebound.
First on the scoreboard, Sara Culhane '17 gave the Purple & White a 1-0 edge 12:46 into the opening period. Gathering a pass from Katie Savage '19 at the offensive blue line, Culhane raced into the zone and fired a snap shot on target from just inside the left circle.
Making the stop, the puck deflected off Julia Neuburger, however Culhane crashed the net and one timed her own rebound into the bottom corner of the goal.
Middlebury evened the score at 1-1 with 14:32 to play in the second period, with Janka Hlinka notching a tally on the Panthers' third shot of the stanza.
Giving the Panthers' their first lead of the game less than three minutes later, Jessica Young found the back of the net at the 8:13 mark to record her league-leading 35th point of the season.
Jocelyn Hunyadi '19 nearly evened the score with 9:12 remaining in the third stanza, taking advantage of the space created during 4-on-4 play. Beating a defender down the left boards, Hunyadi earned a clear path to net, but her attempt at sending a shot top shelf went just wide of the goal.
Extending Middlebury's lead to 3-1 at the 5:45 mark, Sheline netted her eighth goal of the year on an odd-woman rush. Collecting a pass from Young in the high slot, Sheline ripped a contested shot on frame that beat the Amherst netminder low right side.
Threatening less than a minute later, Emma Greise '18 almost found nylon, tipping Caitlyn Ryan's '17 shot from the point towards Neuburger, but the goalkeeper made the last minute adjustment to come up with the save.
Culhane provided Amherst's final close call of the contest, rifling a shot on goal from the high slot that was smothered by Neuburger with 1:35 on the clock.
Carly Watson potted the final dagger for the Panthers with 42.1 seconds remaining, sending a shot from just beyond mid-ice into an empty net to lift Middlebury to the 4-1 win.
- In goal, Dobbins (7-5-3) recorded 18 saves for the Purple & White, while Neuburger (12-3-0) made 30 stops for the Panthers in the win.
- Amherst outshot Middlebury in all three periods, including a 13-6 advantage in the third, to own a 31-22 edge in shot differential.
- Alex Toupal '18 and Hunyadi led the Purple & White with four shots each, while Young led all skaters with eight shots on target.
- Neither team saw success on the power play, with Amherst finishing 0-for-4 and Middlebury going 0-for-3.