The women’s hockey team managed some offensive production but ultimately dropped two games this weekend against Middlebury. After a close game on Friday night, Wesleyan struggled on Saturday in what proved to be a dominant showing by top-ranked Middlebury.
Traveling to Vermont in the midst of Friday’s snow storm, the Cardinals knew it would be a tough weekend ahead. Sitting atop the NESCAC standings with a conference record of 7-0-3 and an overall record of 11-4-3, the Panthers were the better team on paper.
However, Wesleyan got off to a good start, striking first, just under seven minutes into the first period. Working the offense, the Birds moved the puck back to Madzie Carroll ’17 at the point. Carroll snapped off a quick wrist shot, which sophomore Cici Frattasio managed to tip past the Middlebury netminder, giving the Red and Black the 1-0 edge.
Laura Corcoran ’16 looked good for Wesleyan all night, and kept Middlebury off of the scoreboard until just over five minutes to go in the first period. First-year Grace Jennings, on a spectacular defensive effort, swept the puck away from the Wesleyan defender at the Middlebury blue line. Sophomore Jessica Young scooped the puck up for the Panthers in the neutral zone and skated toward a largely uncontested shot on Corcoran, beating her from the slot and knotting the game at one.
Corcoran remained strong for Wesleyan, turning aside a variety of Middlebury shots before finally being beaten once again with 10:30 remaining in the second period. Sophomore Maddie Winslow found Shana Hickman on the left side of the crease, who buried the puck on a one-time effort to give her squad the 2-1 advantage.
Kendall Carr ’19 almost tied the game for Wesleyan at the end of the second period, but her attempt was stopped by the Middlebury goaltender. This gave Middlebury the momentum going into the third, and at the 11:15 mark, Winslow again proved to be a thorn in the side of the Cards, snapping a low shot home from the slot, giving her team the two goal cushion.
Wesleyan did manage to pull within one again, when Jenny Robinson ’16 buried a loose puck in front of goal. However, it proved to be Wesleyan’s last goal of the weekend. Young scored her second goal of the night for Middlebury with just 35 seconds to go on an empty net, bringing the final score to 4-2. Corcoran made 29 saves on 32 shots, again showing a great effort.
Saturday brought a very different game for the Cardinals, who could not find the offensive production needed to outscore Middlebury’s potent offense. Despite making 27 saves on the night, Corinne Rivard ’16 ultimately gave up five, lacking the defensive help necessary to keep the Panthers at bay.
Middlebury struck early and often, beginning 37 seconds in the game, when Young collected her third point of the weekend, feeding sophomore Elizabeth Wulf from behind the net, to bring the score to 1-0. Jennings continued to haunt the Cardinals, earning her second point of the weekend by whipping a wrist shot over Rivard’s left shoulder with just under four minutes remaining in the first period.
Hickman was the third Panther to earn multiple points on the weekend, scoring in the second period to give her team the 3-0 advantage. Young continued a dominating performance, tallying another goal to bring the score to 4-0. Winslow rounded out the scoring in the third, ending the final score at 5-0.
The wins over the weekend extended Middlebury’s NESCAC regular season unbeaten streak to 23. The losses bring Wesleyan to 1-10-1 in the NESCAC, and 4-14-1 overall. Next weekend, the Cardinals will face third-to-last place Trinity in a home-and-away weekend doubleheader, before finishing off the regular season the following weekend with a series against second place Amherst.
Two wins against Trinity, as well as losses for Colby, Bowdoin, Hamilton, and/or Conn College could allow the Red and Black to slip into the final playoff spot in the NESCAC. That said, it would take a lot of help. In an ideal scenario, the Cardinals take two games away from Trinity, and see Colby drop two contests to either Middlebury or Conn College. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, though.