AMHERST, Mass. — Looking to earn a split against New England Small College Athletic Conference rival Amherst College, the Ephs could not bounce back from a 0-3 deficit despite late comeback efforts. Two goals from Courtney Baranek propelled the Lord Jeffs to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Ephs Saturday afternoon.
In similar fashion to last night, the Jeffs took control early on. After surviving a 5-on-3 situation created by two Amherst penalties in the opening 10 minutes, the Jeffs struck first with 9:30 remaining in the frame. Playing short-handed, Amherst managed to open up an offensive opportunity. Baranek registered the first goal of the afternoon to give Amherst a slight 1-0 edge. She was unassisted on the play.
Just under two minutes later, the Jeffs sent the puck past Eph netminder Rachel Nguyen once again. The second tally, also short-handed, came from Geneva Lloyd at the 12:23 mark. Teammate Barrett McBride was credited with the assist.
Solid play between the pipes by Amherst goalie Kerri Stuart and help from her penalty-kill unit prevented the Ephs from capitalizing on a 5-on-3 advantage in the opener. Despite another man-up chance for Williams in the opening 20 minutes, the Amherst defense refused to budge and the score remained 2-0 headed into the first intermission.
The Lord Jeffs came out firing in the middle frame, and once again found the back of the net in the opening minute of the period. Megan Doyen notched the third Amherst goal of the contest, aided by Tori Salmon and Lloyd. The power-play goal gave the home team a comfortable 3-0 advantage.
The Ephs began their comeback effort midway through the second period, thanks to an even-strength goal coming from Sam Cutts at 11:15. Cutts' tally — her second in two games — was assisted by Gabby Vukasin and Cristina Bravi.
A second Williams goal coming midway through the final frame cut the difference to one with 8:31 remaining in the contest. Feeding off the momentum provided by Cutts' goal, the tandem of Aimee Dennett and Andree Heller set up freshman forward Michaela Levine who registered her third goal of the season. Levine's goal closed the gap, leaving Amherst with a slight 3-2 lead.
The Ephs pulled Nguyen with just over a minute remaining, hoping to even up the score. Amherst put the game out of reach with an empty netter at the 18:52 mark. Baranek was set up by teammates Ashley Salerno and Lloyd. Her second tally of the night finalized the score at 4-2.
Nguyen finished the afternoon with 20 stops, while counterpart Stuart turned away 18 bids.
While still a disappointing loss, the Ephs improved from last night's game and still have two more in-conference series to look forward too.
"We played better as the game went on," coach Meghan Gills said. "Looking ahead we need to work on being able to play a full 60 minutes."
Next up for Williams is NESCAC-foe Middlebury. The contest is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. in Lansing Chapman Rink.