Mazzocca's Overtime Heroics Lifts Mammoths Into Sixth Straight NESCAC Semifinal

Photo Courtesy of Anna-Beth (A.B.) Winograd
Photo Courtesy of Anna-Beth (A.B.) Winograd

AMHERST, Mass. – Needing just 1:43 of extra hockey to secure the dramatic win, first-year Jillian Mazzocca's overtime heroics caused pandemonium in Orr Rink Saturday afternoon as the third-seeded Amherst College women's ice hockey team pushed past sixth-seeded Connecticut College, 1-0, in a 2020 NESCAC Championships Quarterfinal matchup.

With the victory, the Mammoths improve to 15-5-5 on the season and advance to the program's sixth straight Semifinal game, while Connecticut College closes out its 2019-2020 campaign at 13-8-4.

Stuck in a scoreless stalemate after 40 minutes of action, the sides continued register close calls in the third period, with Camille Phelan nearly breaking through for the Camels with 16:08 remaining in regulation. Finding space behind a Mammoths' defender in the slot, Phelan one-timed on Samantha Hunt's dish from the point but her attempt sailed an inch wide of the left post.

Connecticut College once again threatened to break the deadlock at the 9:32 mark as a pass to the point skipped over the stick of an Amherst player and out to mid-ice. Racing out of the penalty box, Natalie Witkowski looked to capitalize on the fortuitous bounce as she skated towards frame on breakaway, but her snap shot aimed for the top right corner went just high.

The Mammoths best chance to end things in regulation came with 58 seconds to play as Angelina Wiater '22 and Kaitlin Hoang '21 looked to find the back of the net on a 2-v-1 rush, however a strong defensive play by Melanie Conca kept the score at 0-0 at the buzzer.

In extra minutes, Mazzocca gave onlookers the answer to who would advance to the next round of the NESCAC tournament with 18:17 on the clock as she teamed up with fellow first-years Kate Pohl and  Carley Daly to set the stage for the Mammoths' 13th Semifinals appearance.

An errant cross-ice breakout pass by the Camels set up the game-winning score, with Elizabeth Holubiak '22 picking up the puck just inside the Mammoths' defensive zone and dishing a backhander to her d-partner Avery Flynn '23 on the left boards. Moving the puck towards Connecticut College territory, A. Flynn found Daly at center ice before the first-year weaved into the offensive end and left a drop pass for Pohl near the top of the left circle. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Pohl drove a wrist shot towards net that Mazzocca finished off as she tipped the puck up and over the glove of the Camels' netminder and into the top right corner.

In frame, Caitlin Walker '22 (14-5-5) registered 30 stops for the Mammoths to earn the win, while Carly Denora (8-6-3) made 23 saves for the Connecticut College in the losing effort.

The Camels owned the edge in shots on target in the contest, 30-24, and finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while Amherst went 0-for-3 up a skater.

The Mammoths make the trip to Kenyon Arena on the campus of top-seeded Middlebury College this Saturday, March 7 when they take on No. 2 Colby College in a Semifinals bout beginning at 4:00PM. No. 1 Middlebury and No. 4 Hamilton will take the ice in the first game of the day at 1:00PM.