Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Fifth-seeded Amherst scored two goals in the first period and Sabrina Dobbins made 30 saves in a 2-0 victory over second-seeded Connecticut College in the NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Semifinals. The Purple & White will play top-seeded Middlebury in Sunday's NESCAC Championship in Kenyon Arena at 2:00 p.m. The Panthers advanced to the title game with a 4-1 win in the day's first game over sixth-seeded Bowdoin. Sunday's championship game winner earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The contest is a rematch of the 2016 title game, which saw the host Panthers earn a 5-4 overtime victory. The Purple and White are seeking their first conference championship since 2010.
Amherst opened the scoring at the 11:46 mark of the first period when Alex Toupal lifted a rebound over Conn. College goalie Katherine Chester. Chester made the initial stop on a shot from the point by Anne Malloy, but the puck went directly to Toupal at the right post for her 20th goal of the season. The Purple & White made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 3:25 left in the period. Toupal threaded a pass across the slot from the right point to a breaking Katelyn Pantera. Pantera reached out and redirected the pass behind Chester for a two-goal lead.
The Camels nearly broke through for a goal in the closing seconds of the initial period when Ashley Anctil stripped an Amherst player of the puck right in front of the goal. Anctil released a quick shot from point-blank range, but Dobbins made the save to send her team into the intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
Connecticut College's Kyla Floresca had a quality scoring chance on the first shift of the second period, skating straight up the slot and ringing a shot off the right post. Minutes later, Julie Beattie ripped a shot from the right face-off dot that went hit the cross bar. Amherst almost made it a three-goal game when Pantera swept a shot on goal from the slot while falling, but Chester made a nice save to keep it a two goal contest.
The Camels were poised to get onto the scoreboard when they were awarded a brief, 24 second, 5-on-3 power play in the final seven minutes. Amherst erased the penalties with Connecticut College's best chance in that time coming on a tip by Samantha Estes on a shot from the point by Beattie. The Camels pulled Chester with 1:20 remaining for an extra attacker, but the Purple & White didn't allow a shot on goal in that span with Kristen Molina and Miriam Eickoff each coming up with key blocks to secure the victory.
Chester finished with 20 saves as Connecticut College held a 30-22 edge in shots. Amherst won the battle of special teams, scoring a goal on its lone power play and killing off all six Camel power plays.