AMHERST, MA – A pair of women's hockey powerhouses will collide this weekend when second-ranked Amherst College hosts fourth-ranked Rochester Institute of Technology Friday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in the USCHO Women's Game of the Week. The Lord Jeffs (4-0-1) and Tigers (5-0-1) will then face off at Orr Rink Saturday at 3 p.m. to wrap up the weekend. Live audio and video will be provided by USCHO for Friday night's game and by JeffCast for Saturday's contest.
Amherst is 1-8 all-time against RIT dating back to the inaugural matchup in 1996. The Lord Jeffs' lone win came during the 2007 NCAA Championship opening round when they earned a 2-1 upset victory at RIT to advance to the national semifinals for the first time in program history. The teams have met twice since then, with the Tigers winning the 2007-08 regular season matchup by a score of 3-1 before earning a 4-1 win a year ago.
This weekend's games will feature Division III's top-ranked offense (RIT) and its top-ranked defense (Amherst). Out-scoring opponents by a 22-3 margin this year, the Lord Jeffs are allowing a mere 0.60 goals per game. Despite out-shooting Trinity College by a combined 76-27 this past weekend, Amherst settled for a 0-0 tie Friday night before pulling out a 3-2 win Saturday afternoon courtesy of a Randi Zukas '11 goal 7:18 into the third period.
Zukas leads Amherst with seven points on two goals and five assists, as 16 players have recorded at least two points as part of a well-balanced attack. Caroline Hu '11 and Sinead Murphy '12 have been impressive between the pipes thus far, with Murphy saving all 18 shots she has faced in 125 minutes. After making only a pair of stops during a win at Wesleyan, Murphy made 16 saves during Amherst's scoreless tie against Trinity. Hu is a perfect 3-0-0 this season with a 1.00 goals-against average and .889 save percentage.
The Tigers are averaging 6.83 goals per game, but 17 of their scores came during a lopsided win over SUNY-Potsdam that saw all 18 of the team's skaters record at least one point. RIT is coming off an impressive 2-0 weekend that featured a 7-3 win over Williams and a 3-1 victory over New England College. The Tigers trailed the Ephs after two periods but scored five unanswered goals—including a pair of empty netters—to seal the win.
None of RIT's top six scorers are seniors, as the Tigers have continued their dominating ways despite featuring a young squad. Notably, Sarah Dagg '11 leads all of Division III in assists per game (2.00) and is second in points per game (2.67), as her four goals and 12 helpers make her the team's biggest threat on offense. Splitting time in net have been Amy Torgerson '12 and Carley King '13, who will be looking to record their first shutouts of the season. Torgerson (2-0-1) has seen the majority of action, posting a 3.03 GAA and .817 save percentage. King (3-0-0) is allowing only 1.23 goals per game and has stopped 91.2 percent of shots faced.
Amherst is kicking off an incredibly difficult four-game stretch that pits the Lord Jeffs against some of the top teams in Division III. After hosting the fourth-ranked Tigers this weekend, Amherst will return to action Sunday, Jan. 3 to begin the Panther/Cardinal Classic at Middlebury College. Taking part in the tournament will be top-ranked Plattsburgh State, second-ranked Amherst, third-ranked Middlebury and fifth-ranked Elmira College. All four tournament games will feature live webcasts as part of USCHO's Game of the Week schedule.
"We're excited to paly a tough schedule," says Amherst head coach Jim Plumer. "I think it's really important for us to constantly be under pressure to play our best and to see how we match up against teams that play different styles. It was our intention to play a difficult schedule—we're looking forward to it."
One more victory for Plumer will give him 100 for his career. Currently in his seventh season with Amherst, Plumer has posted a 99-55-13 record, including a 68-16-8 mark since the beginning of the 2006-07 season.
Visit the USCHO website for the complete Women's Game of the Week schedule.