BRUNSWICK, ME— Stephanie Ludy's (Shrewsbury, MA) goal with 21 seconds remaining in overtime sent Bowdoin to the NESCAC semi-finals for the 3rd consecutive year. Despite a terrific performance in net from Chloe Billadeau and great all-around effort, the Ephs fell short in a hard-fought NESCAC quarterfinal matchup.
The Ephs jumped on the board first, as Williams junior Sam Weinstein (Marblehead, MA) recorded her 9th goal of the season to give the visitors the first lead of the afternoon. With just under 8 minutes elapsed in the frame, Weinstein took a pass from sophomore Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) and fired home a shot.
A tripping penalty on Williams' Gabby Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) gave Bowdoin a powerplay shortly after Weinstein helped the Ephs take the lead. However, solid goaltending and defensive play by Chloe Billadeau (Chaska, MN) and the Eph penalty-kill unit helped Williams hold onto their 1-0 edge until late in the opening frame.
After the Ephs were unable to capitalize on a Bowdoin penalty, the Polar Bears took advantage of their second man-up opportunity of the first. Bowdoin's Kayte Holtz (New Berlin, WI) added to her NESCAC-leading points total with just 37 seconds remaining in the period, aided by Kim Tess-Wanat (Fond du Lac, WI) and Kendra Sweet (Antigonish, NS), notching a powerplay goal to knot things up at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
Holtz followed up her late first period goal with an early tally to open the second. Williams won the opening faceoff but quickly turned the puck over, where it was picked up by Bowdoin's Chelsea MacNeil (Moncton, NB). MacNeil sent a pass to Holtz, who beat Billadeau for her 2nd goal in under a minute to put the Polar Bears on top 2-1.
Clean, back-and-forth hockey characterized the remainder of the middle frame. With few stoppages in play, both keepers were kept busy, as Billeadeau and Bowdoin's Kayla Lessard (Enfield, CT) each turned away 9 shots. The Ephs were given a powerplay opportunity late in the period, peppering Lessard with a deluge of shots, but the junior netminder helped the Polar Bears cling to their one-goal lead heading into the final period of regulation.
Fighting tooth and nail, the Ephs managed to even the score up at 2-2 less than 7:30 into the 3rd period. Taking advantage of a Bowdoin penalty, freshman Andree Heller (Toronto, ON) managed to find the back of the net to notch the equalizer, with help from Ally Ensor (Sugarland, TX) and Kristen Tubbs (Garden City, NY).
With the game tied at 2-2 and 12:40 remaining in regulation, there was still plenty of hockey left to play. Big saves from Billadeau and Lessard kept either team from regaining the lead, and neither offense was able to capitalize on their opportunities. As time wound down, a penalty on Williams' Hannah Systrom (Winchester, MA) gave the Polar Bears one last chance to keep the game from heading into overtime, but the Ephs were able to clear the puck out and send the game into a forth 20-minute period.
Successfully killing off the remainder of Systrom's penalty, Williams then went on the offensive in extra time, recording 14 shots on goal to Bowdoin's 7. However, the Polar Bears only needed one shot for the decisive tally.
After 15:29 of back-and-forth, sudden-death hockey, it seemed as though the Ephs may have gotten a break when Bowdoin's Madeline Lane (Topsham, ME) was whistled for tripping. However, the Ephs struggled to keep the puck in the Polar Bears' defensive zone, leading to a few shorthanded rushes and successful penalty-kill by Bowdoin.
It appeared that the contest would be headed into double-overtime, but Ludy's gamewinner with 21 seconds left in extra time put the Polar Bears on top for good. From the corner, Holtz played the puck to MacNeil, who sent a pass in front of the net. Ludy managed to tip the puck over the extended glove of Billadeau, and after almost 80 minutes of hockey, Bowdoin claimed the ultimate edge.
Both keepers had stellar afternoons in goal, as Billadeau finished off her freshman season with 33 saves for the Ephs. On the other end of the ice, Lessard turned away 38 shots in her 10th start of the year.
This afternoon's contest was the final collegiate performance for the five Eph seniors. After 4 years and 97 games together, Hannah Systrom, Eliza Foster, Sarah Herr, Kristen Tubbs, and Kate Foley capped off their Williams careers with a 35-58-4 overall record and accruing 60 goals and 90 assists for an even 150 points.
Bowdoin will take on Amherst next weekend at 4 pm, traveling to Middlebury, VT for the NESCAC semifinals.