Jeffs Edged in Overtime of NESCAC Finals, 1-0

NESCAC Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Lauren Greer scored 6:17 into overtime to lift Middlebury College to its seventh NESCAC Women's Hockey Championship title with a 1-0 victory over Amherst College Sunday afternoon at Kenyon Arena. 

The Panthers (21-3-3) receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Lord Jeffs (21-5-1) will hope to receive an at-large bid. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for Monday, Mar. 5 at 10 a.m.

This was the fourth NESCAC Championship meeting between the schools, with three of the games requiring overtime. Amherst had taken the previous titles in overtime in 2007 and 2009, with Middlebury earning a 4-3 victory a year ago.

Sinead Murphy '12 finished with 24 saves for Amherst, as the Panthers held a 25-16 edge in shots on goal.

Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, as the Panthers came up empty on a pair of power play opportunities.

Following a failed Middlebury power play at the 5:03 mark of the second period, Maggie Melberg had a quick shot from close range denied by Murphy. Middlebury nearly broke the scoreless tie at 11:05, as a wrister by Madeline Joyce beat Murphy but clanked the crossbar. 

The Panthers had another great chance in the last minute, but a shot from Melberg after a feed from Hannah Bielawski in the slot was saved by Murphy. After being outshot 9-3 in the first period, Amherst returned the favor in the second.

Murphy Josie Fisher '12 made a great move for Amherst and cut to the slot early in the second, with her backhander saved by Annabelle Jones (16 saves). Amherst had two more big chances midway through the second period with a blast from Tori Salmon '15 hitting a teammate in front and a shot from Megan Doyen '13 in the high slot going just wide at 13:40.

The Panthers put on some pressure in the final five minutes of regulation with some good looks. Greer's shot at 14:04 from the left wing hit the post, while two attempts by Grace Waters were denied one minute later. Maria Bourdeau had a shot just miss the post with 3:05 remaining, while Sara Ugalde had a good look at her own rebound with 1:15 left to play. 

The Panthers went on a power play with 28 seconds left in the third but could not take advantage as it was killed off early in overtime. Prior to the extra session, Erin Babineau '12 had a great shorthanded look with 20 seconds remaining, but the shot went into Jones' chest for the save.

Middlebury nearly won the game 3:20 into the extra period, but a shot by Katie Sullivan was denied by Murphy. Greer's game winner came as she skated into the zone and let loose a blast that was partially saved by Murphy. The puck dropped to the ice and slowly trickled across the goal line to give the Panthers the title. 

Amherst qualified for four consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2007-10 but missed out last year, as the Lord Jeffs are hoping to get back to the national stage and add to the titles they won in 2009 and 2010.