WILLIAMSTOWN, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's ice hockey team's bid for consecutive NESCAC Championships came up short on Sunday afternoon, as the Polar Bears dropped a 4-1 decision to host Williams in the conference title game.
The Polar Bears, who were making a bid for their fourth NESCAC title, end their season with a record of 13-11-1. Williams wins its first conference championship and improves to 15-9-3 on the year.
Williams scored the game's first goal for the second day in a row. Off the opening rush, the Ephs regrouped in neutral ice and first year Hanna Beattie flipped a dump in on Bowdoin first year goaltender Lan Crofton. The puck took a strange bounce in the crease and squeaked through Crofton's legs 34 seconds into the game. This mishap put Williams up 1-0, and the assists were given to Cristina Bravi and Emily Krueger.
Play went back and forth until the 8:32 mark, when Krueger took an offensive zone tripping minor. However, the Eph penalty kill unit remained perfect on the weekend and kept the visitors off the board.
Later in the period, Williams doubled its lead. Crofton made a left pad save on a firm wristshot from junior defenseman Caitlin Conlon's point bid, but the rebound popped back into the slot, where freshman Chelsea Stevenson buried her one-timer to notch her second goal of the weekend. Stevenson's goal at 11:28 came from Conlon and Krueger.
With 30 seconds left in the period, Bravi gloved a puck down at center and moved in for a partial breakaway, but the puck rolled off her stick and safely into Crofton's trapper for a whistle. After the ensuing faceoff, Polar Bear junior Colleen Finnerty took a neutral zone tripping penalty. The period ended with 1:46 left on the minor to carry over to the second period. Shots were 11-9 in favor of Williams after one.
Bowdoin gave the Ephs fits with good shorthanded forechecking to open the period, but Williams opened up a three goal lead on the powerplay 59 seconds into the period. The Ephs finally broke out of their own zone with a nice give and go passing play. Bravi used her speed down the left wing and made a power move towards the goal. Her first shot was denied, but Gabby Vukasin pounced on the rebound to give the Ephs some breathing room. Bravi and sophomore defensemanTalia Simon were credited with assists.
Bowdoin answered just 29 seconds later. Off a good cycle play, Bowdoin's Schuyler Nardelli spun on the left wing boards and wired a shot towards Eph goaltender Charlie Billadeau. The rebound was kicked to the far side and Polar Bear sophomore Ariana Bourque was in perfect position to end Billadeau's shutout streak. Nardelli and Finnerty assisted on Bourque's tally.
Bowdoin carried the tempo for the majority of the period, but Williams got its three goal lead back at 17:05. The play started on a beautiful toe drag move by Michaela Levine to enter Bowdoin territory. Findley denied her breakaway attempt, but the Ephs kept the puck in and continued a strong shift. Junior Andree Heller put a shot towards Findley from a bad angle, and Bravi poked the rebound home for her third point of the night. Krueger recorded her third assist on the game as well.
The third period saw solid back and forth play, but no changes to the scoreboard. At 3:54 Levine took a checking minor in the offensive zone, and at 10:54 Nardelli took a minor of her own for Bowdoin, but neither team could cash in. The game ended with Bowdoin holding a narrow edge in shots, 29-26.
Crofton made nine saves in 20:59 before being replaced by Beth Findley, who stopped 13 shots in 36:33. Billadeau made 28 saves for Williams.