Williams women’s hockey advances to NESCAC tourney semifinal


WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams women’s hockey team had just a handful of scoring chances through the first 40 minutes. Trinity was executing the game plan perfectly. Everything changed in 18 seconds.

The Ephs converted a pair of rebounds to take their first lead, and Hanna Beattie blasted home the game-winner later to give Williams a 3-2 win over Trinity in a NESCAC quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the first time since 2005 the Williams women have won a tournament game.

"In the locker room between the [second and third] period our seniors teared up a little," Beattie said. "We wanted to win it for them."

It was the first time the women hosted a playoff game since 2006, and they’ll get the opportunity to host another. The top two seeds lost Saturday, leaving Williams as the top remaining seed. That brings the conference semifinals and final to Williamstown next weekend. Williams will play Connecticut College in one semi, while Bowdoin and Colby play in the other. Both will be Saturday.

"It’s unbelievably exciting," Williams goalie Charlie Billadeau said. "I know that we’re going to take the game to Colby. We beat them twice already this year, and just like Trinity, we’re going to crush them."

Gwendolyn Schultz was the first Eph to pounce on a loose puck around the crease and pop it in. Her tally with 17:15 left caused an immediate momentum shift.

Eighteen seconds after, Cristina Bravi calmly did the same, and suddenly, Williams had the lead. Trinity had led since the 17:07 mark of the first period.

"Once you’re not scoring, I feel like you kind of get it in your head that you know you keep trying, it’s not happening. So it’s hard to get out of that mentality, but once you get one in, you realize how easy it can be and how one shot can just change everything," Bravi said. "That’s what we started doing after we scored that first one, we just kept shooting and hoped for the best."

There was still 16:57 to play, and Trinity took advantage of that with exactly 9 minutes remaining when Lauren Glynn squeezed a shot through Billadeau’s pads from a sharp angle.

Beattie, a freshman, put Williams back on top 36 seconds later, though, with a blast from the point off a face-off win. The shot deflected off a Trinity player in front and eluded Kristen Maxwell.

Through the first 40 minutes, Trinity, under the direction of first-year coach Jenny Potter -- a four-time Olympic medalist -- angled Williams to the boards and quickly double-teamed. It was working brilliantly.

As Williams continued to shoot from the outside, bringing its shot total to a deceptive 21-12 edge through two periods, their frustration grew. The individual efforts increased, and that played directly into what Trinity was trying to accomplish.

The two quick goals solved that.

"I think the last 20 minutes they realized you just got to leave it all out there," Williams coach Meghan Gillis said. "I think just feeding off the first goal, able to get the second one as quickly was huge."

To reach Josh Colligan:
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