NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Connecticut College women's ice hockey team, which was facing a top 10 nationally-ranked opponent for the fifth time in seven games, battled wire-to-wire for 60 minutes before eventually coming up just short to No. 1 Norwich by a 4-2 score on Sunday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena. The Camels held their own and found themselves ahead or tied for most of the game before the Cadets rallied by scoring the last three goals to remain unbeaten this season.
After successfully fighting off an early penalty, Connecticut College used an aggressive forecheck to net the first goal of the game. Senior captain Lily Connolly (Duxbury, Mass.) rifled a one-timer after taking a short pass from junior assistant Elena Gualtieri (Rome, N.Y.) to put her team on the board just 6:04 into the contest. It also marked the first time the Cadets found themselves trailing since falling behind then-No. 1 Plattsburgh State by a 2-1 score on Nov. 8. The impressive streak lasted 360:58 and covered a span of seven contests.
Connecticut College (4-2-1) limited Norwich to just six shots in the opening frame and had an opportunity to double its lead when it earned a power play at the 14:52 mark. Freshman Erin Dillon (Hazlet, N.J.) had two golden opportunities, but her first good look was saved by Laurie King and a backhander moments later went wide. A one-timed shot by sophomore Kylie Wilkes (Howell, N.J.) off a feed from senior Katlyn Paiva (Rehoboth, Mass.) hit the pipe.
Norwich (10-0-1), which survived having to play 5-on-3 in the waning minutes, was able to steal the puck away on a strong forecheck to even the score just 1:02 before the intermission. Alyssa Hulst took a shot that was stopped by junior Bailey Mertz (Glenville, N.Y.) and then potted her own rebound to make it 1-1 by the end of the first period.
The Camels, who had an 11-6 shot advantage during the first period, had another power play in the opening minutes of the second. Norwich, however, gained the best scoring opportunity when Conway fired a shot from inside the slot that appeared to bounce off the mask of Mertz. The Cadets then got a power play of their own at the seven-minute mark of the frame and unleashed six shots, but the Camels were able to withstand the pressure.
Connecticut College appeared to gain back the momentum when Connolly took control of the puck at the boards, evaded a Cadet defender and beat King with a backhander for her second goal of the game with her team playing shorthanded at 11:08. Norwich, however, had an instant answer just 10 seconds later when Adrieana Rossini finished a pass from Sarah Schwenzfeier. Sophomore Erin Healy (Melrose, Mass.) nearly scored a goal to move back ahead when she unleashed a shot from the blue line on another Camel power play, but the puck was cleared away from the goal line by Carly Menges. The teams headed into the second intermission deadlocked at 2-2.
Norwich started the third period on the offensive and attempted three quick shots. Kim Tiberi fired an attempt that was saved by Mertz and bounced off the right pipe before an ensuing attempt by Conway was also stopped by the Camel junior netminder to keep the game tied. Norwich, however, took its first lead just 3:25 into the frame when Brynn Wopperer punched in a rebound through traffic from both sides off an initial shot that was taken from the left point by Samantha Benoit.
The Cadets then capitalized again from the point to take the first two-goal advantage of the game for either side, as Kim Tiberi rocketed the puck through a scrum of players from the right side to make it 4-2 before the midway point of the period. King followed up by making four saves the rest of the way, and the nation's top-ranked team remained undefeated this season.
King earned the victory between the pipes by turning away 20 Camel attempts for Norwich, which had a 27-22 advantage in shots. Mertz of Connecticut College was charged with the setback after making 23 saves, including several with her mask, in a strong effort. Her defense also blocked 15 Cadet shots.
Connecticut College will break for final exams and begin a seven-game homestand when it next hosts William Smith on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 3:00 p.m.