Amherst Shuts Out Williams on Senior Day, 1-0

AMHERST, MA – Less than 24 hours after clinching the NESCAC's top seed with a 5-0 win over Middlebury College, the Amherst College women's ice hockey team earned a thrilling 1-0 victory over archrival Williams College to improve to 16-4 overall and 14-0 in conference play. With the loss, the Ephs fall to 6-15-1 (4-9-1 NESCAC).

Prior to the game, Amherst honored its four seniors: Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI), Anna MacLean (Edina, MN), Lindsey Harrington (Westford, MA) and Julie Radziewicz (Orlando, FL). Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Class of 2009 has posted a record of 66-30-7 (42-13-7 NESCAC) with a pair of conference championships under its belt.

Amherst dominated the first half of the opening period, but with nine minutes to play Williams' Tracey Ferriter used some physical play to gain control of the puck in the neutral zone. The Ephs' points-leader nearly had a clear path toward the goal, but junior Molly Malloy (Stamford, CT) hustled back to prevent the visitors from getting off a shot on net.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first frame, Amherst first-year Josie Fisher (White River Junction, VT) stormed in on the right wing before feeding sophomore Megan Curry (Shorewood, MN) in front of the net. Curry put a one-timer right on target, but junior Sara Plunkett came up with the big save. The teams headed into the locker room tied at 0-0, with Plunkett making 20 saves in the opening 20 minutes.

Amherst was handed another power play opportunity early in the second period but once again could not come up with a goal despite getting several good chances. The Ephs had 25 seconds of a 5-on-3 to work with midway through the frame, but the Jeffs made a big stop to keep their rivals off the scoreboard.

With five minutes to play before the second intermission, Amherst sophomore Randi Zukas (Glen Head, NY) had the puck rebound to her at the point. Zukas wound up for a slap shot with no defender to get in her way, but the puck sailed just high to draw a collection of sighs from the home crowd.

Sophomore Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) finally broke the tie when she snuck a beautiful shot just underneath the crossbar on the near post to bring the Amherst fans to their feet. First-year Stephanie Clegg (Woburn, MA) and junior Michelle McGann (New Berlin, WI) picked up assists on the play to give the hosts a 1-0 lead with 3:42 showing on the clock. Amherst nearly put in another goal with 40 seconds remaining in the period, but they took their 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

Nearly five minutes into the third period Williams was given another 16 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey to work with. The Ephs applied heavy pressure but still could not get a shot past Amherst sophomore goaltender Caroline Hu (Cerritos, CA).

Williams called a timeout when Zukas was whistled for a penalty with 1:29 remaining in regulation, as the Ephs were looking to make one final push while on the power play. After junior Alyssa Chwick (Rye Brook, NY) just missed the empty net on a shot from the blue line, Williams regained control of the puck and went on the attack. The Jeffs called a timeout with 45 seconds on the clock and their defense held up, as the Ephs were unable to find the equalizer.

Hu made 16 saves to earn the shutout, while Plunkett stopped 40 shots in the tough loss. With the win over Williams, Amherst improved to 39-0-7 in its last 46 games against NESCAC teams and increased its winning streak over the Ephs to six games. The Lord Jeffs return to action Wednesday, Feb. 18, when they host fourth-ranked Elmira College at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament first-round game.