MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Alex Toupal '18 struck twice in a two-minute span and Bailey Plaman '18 stood strong in goal to rack up 36 stops, including 16 in the third period, as the third-seeded Amherst College women's ice hockey team avenged early winter losses to second-seeded Connecticut College with a 3-1 victory over the Camels in a 2018 NESCAC Championship Semifinal matchup Saturday afternoon at Kenyon Arena.
With the victory, Amherst improves to 16-6-4 on the season and advances to the NESCAC Finals for the third straight season, while Connecticut College closes out its 2017-18 campaign with a 15-6-5 overall ledger. Amherst returns to action tomorrow, March 3 when they battle top-seeded Middlebury for the conference crown beginning at 2 p.m.
Getting on the board midway through the opening period, Miriam Eickhoff '19 tallied her seventh goal of the year at the 11:51 mark to give the Mammoths a 1-0 edge. Racing towards net on a 2-v-2, Eickhoff gained inside positioning on her defender and deflected Natalie Lima's '21 rebound over the goal line.
The Camels responded with a scoring chance two minutes later as Lily Connolly powered a shot towards frame in a bid to net the equalizer, however her shot rang off the post.
Doubling Amherst's lead to 2-0 with 1:50 remaining in the first, Toupal notched her NESCAC-leading 19th goal of the winter and what stood as the game-winner following a neutral zone regroup pass from Mia DelRosso '21. Buying time and cutting across the zone, Toupal drove a wrister from the high slot inside the left post.
Starting the second period strong, the Mammoths needed just 51 seconds to extend their lead to 3-0. Recording her second goal of the game, Toupal capitalized on a 2-v-1 dish from Katie Savage '19 as she deked to her backhand and slid a shot past the Camel netminder.
Avoiding the shut out, Lauren Helm found nylon for Connecticut College with time winding down following an Amherst tripping penalty. Gathering the puck at the left point, Katlyn Paiva's slapper was met with a pad save, however the rebound bounced directly to Helm crashing the right post for the score at the 18:29 mark.
Pulling out all the stops in the third stanza, Connecticut College tested Plaman 16 times in the final 20 minutes of regulation, including an onslaught of six shots at the 8:30 mark, however the Amherst defense held off the attack to keep the Camels scoreless and clinch the 3-1 victory.
- In between the pipes, Plaman (11-5-4) registered 36 saves in the winning effort for Amherst, while Bailey Mertz (14-6-4) made 16 stops for the Camels in the loss.
- The Mammoths outshot Connecticut College, 13-9 in the opening period, however the Camels finished the contest with a 37-19 advantage in shot differential.
- On the power play, Amherst went 0-for-3, while Connecticut College finished 1-for-3 up a skater.