AMHERST, Mass. – Taking to the ice at Orr Rink for the First Round of the NCAA Championships, the Amherst College women's ice hockey team tied things at one all midway through the second period before a score with 8:09 remaining in regulation lifted No. 7 Norwich University to victory Wednesday evening at Orr Rink.
With the national postseason loss, Amherst closes out its 2019-2020 campaign with a 17-6-5 overall ledger, while Norwich improves to 23-4-2 overall and advances to take on No. 1 Plattsburgh State University in the Quarterfinals on Saturday, March 14 at 3:00PM.
Opening scoring at the 13:30 mark, Kelley Madden potted her first of two goals on the night with assists from Samantha Benoit and Blossom Truel. Ripping a shot on frame from the point, Caitlin Walker '22 – the third ranked goalkeeper in Division III in save percentage – got her pad on the initial attempt, but Madden was waiting on the doorstep to put the rebound away and give the visitors a 1-0 lead at intermission.
Getting it back with 11:48 on the clock in the second period, junior Kaitlin Hoang found the back of the net for the third time in as many playoff games to notch her ninth of the winter and stalemate the sides at 1-1. Capitalizing on a win at the faceoff dot by Anne Malloy '20 in Cadets' territory, Hoang grabbed Leslie Schwartz 's '23 dish into the right corner, and put a shot on target the bounced off the arm of the Norwich keeper before deflecting off her helmet and over the goal line.
Amanda Conway's 32nd goal of the season for Norwich proved to be the difference maker in the First Round matchup, with the forward picking off a pass at the Cadets' defensive blue line while down a skater to earn a breakaway. Hitting nylon with one second remaining on the Cadet penalty and with 8:09 on the clock, Madden ripped a snap shot over the glove of the Mammoths' netminder and into the top right corner.
Putting on the pressure down the stretch, the Mammoths did everything but find the back of the net in the final five minutes of action. Threatening with 4:58 to go, Hoang looked to take advantage of a fortuitous bounce that found her alone in the slot on a 1-v-0, but Alexa Berg stood strong on the junior's deke to her backhand before turning away another chance by Hoang – a backhander from the bottom of the right circle with 3:14 on the clock.
Pulling their goalie for the extra skater after a timeout and 1:45 remaining, the Mammoths put two final shots on net before an empty net score by Madden clinched the win for the visitors.
In frame, Walker (16-6-5) racked up 28 saves for Amherst to close out a sensational sophomore season that saw the Columbus, Ohio native be named First Team All-NESCAC, while Berg (11-3-2) collected 30 stops for the Cadets in the victory.
The contest marked the seventh appearance by the Mammoths in the NCAA Championship tournament (2007-10, 2012, 2016, 2020), with Amherst returning to the big dance for the first time since 2016. Amherst now stands at 6-6 all time in NCAA action.