PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Williams, trying to break a three-game losing streak, had a challenge ahead of themselves Wednesday night against Plattsburgh State. The Cardinals entered Wednesday's game with a 13-0-1 record and ranked number one in the USCHO.com national poll. Having already defeated three New England Small College Athletic Conference teams this season — Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury — Plattsburgh tacked on another victory against Williams, 4-1.
It was an all-Cardinals show in the opening minutes. The home team was quick to fire off two shots on goal before the one-minute mark and continued to be relentless on offense in the following minutes of play. Chloe Billadeau stayed strong between the pipes however, turning away bid after bid and keeping the top-ranked Cardinals at bay.
The Cardinal shots-on-goal advantage eventually paid off and the scoreless draw would be erased with 10:22 remaining in the frame. Plattsburgh forward Ali Vakos would register the even strength goal. Vakos was set up by the tandem of Emma Rutherford and Mia Favretto to give the home team a 1-0 edge.
The first penalty of the game came just under nine minutes and gave Williams the first man-up opportunity of the night. Pressure by the penalty kill allowed the Cardinals to hold onto their lead, which they would keep at the end of the first 20 minutes.
While Plattsburgh had the advantage on the scoreboard after the opener, the Ephs managed to get the puck deep in the Cardinals zone multiple times. The visitors' tested Sydeny Aveson in goal six times, while Plattsburgh posted eight shots on goal after the first frame.
Opening the middle stanza, the Ephs had their second powerplay chance to create opportunities to even up the score. An Eph penalty however, created a 4-on-4 for about a minute and then give the home team an abbreviated powerplay. The Cardinals kept the pressure up and peppered Billadeau with shots, but a couple of brilliant saves from the sophomore Eph goalie kept it a one-goal game.
It became a two-goal game at the 13:22 mark. After a number of scoring opportunities, a one-timer from Teal Gove that found its way through Billadeau's legs extended Plattsburgh's lead. Andrea Ziesmann and Morgan MacInnis recorded assists on the insurance goal.
Despite playing shorthanded for two minutes at the end of the second, Billadeau and the Ephs would not allow Plattsburgh to up their lead. The one second-period goal from Gove left the score at 2-0 after 40 minutes of play.
It was Williams who brought the energy at the opening of the third, hoping to get on the board and begin a comeback. A third penalty from Plattsburgh opened a few solid scoring chances for the Ephs, but the Cardinals managed to kill another penalty to retain their 2-0 lead.
Plattsburgh's penalty kill unit kept busy when another penalty put them on the defensive. They refused to stay on the defensive for long, as an unassisted, shorthanded bid from Gove came at 12:14. Billadeau made the initial save, but she could not control the rebound, and Gove was able to find to back of the net for a second time of the night to give her home team a 3-0 lead.
Undeterred and still on the powerplay, the Ephs retaliated shortly after and got on the board. Freshman forward Michaela Levine broke up the shutout and cut the Cardinals lead to 3-1 with 11:46 to go. Levine made a nice move by skating through two Plattsburgh defenders before sending the puck home. Nitsan Goldstein assisted on the goal.
A couple of penalties set up a rare 4-on-3 powerplay in the middle of the third. The 4-on-3 then turned into a 49-second two-player advantage for Williams, adding to the surge of momentum generated by Levine's goal. Williams could not capitalize on the 5-on-3, and the Eph momentum and comeback bid was halted with a fourth and final Cardinal goal with 2:17 remaining. A goal by Shannon Stewart, who had help from teammates Jenny Kistner and Gove, erased the comeback effort and seal the deal for Plattsburgh, 4-1.
Cardinal netminder Aveson finished the evening with 21 saves, while Billadeau turned away 23 bids.
"I thought that we executed the game plan well, "coach Meghan Gillis said. "Playing a great team, we had to come out strong, and we did a good job of holding them to a low shot count in the first and the third. Being able to record a powerplay goal to cut the lead to 3-1 was great as well."
Gillis highlighted the play of freshman Talia Simon, stating, "Talie played her best game of the year. She did a great job of breaking the puck out and starting some offensive rushes."
Next up for the Ephs is a string of NESCAC games, beginning with Colby. The Ephs will travel to Waterville, Maine, for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.