Williams women's hockey team wins 5th straight

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Make it five straight wins for the Williams College women's hockey team. But more importantly for coach Meghan Gillis and her Ephs, is that they are 60 minutes away from consecutive NESCAC sweeps.

Annie Rush scored two goals, including the game-winning tally midway through the first period, as Williams beat Colby 4-1 Friday night at Lansing Chapman Rink.

Gillis said the key is "resetting. Not forgetting we won today. But remembering that it starts 0-0."

The Ephs (9-2-1, 5-2 NESCAC) came into Friday's game tied for second place in the conference with Colby (6-2-3. 4-3). When the final horn sounded, Williams not only extended its winning streak to five games, but is now 6-0-1 in its last seven. The Ephs have not lost since dropping the first game of a series to Wesleyan back on Dec. 1.

Williams scored three of its four goals in the first 11 minutes of the first period.

"It was huge" to get off to a good start, captain Rush said. "It was Senior Night, so sometimes we get too excited about celebrating ourselves and don't focus on the real thing. So it's good.

"I think we're playing well, but I think we have another gear we can find."

Williams and Middlebury (4-0-2 NESCAC, 7-1-3 overall) are now tied for first place in NESCAC. The Ephs have more wins, but Middlebury has not lost in conference play. The Panthers played two non-conference games this weekend, so if Williams sweeps Colby, it would reside atop the conference standings.

Rush was one of five Williams seniors who took the ice on Senior Night. Two of them hooked up on the first Williams goal.

Brynn Puppe, a sophomore defenseman, started the play and sent the puck into the Colby zone. Abby Brustad made a perfect drop pass to Rush, who one-timed the puck past Colby goalie Cierra San Roman at 2:40. Twelve seconds later, Colby's Lexi Cafiero tied the game, but more on that later.

Instead of letting that impact them negatively, Williams took the game to Colby. Then at 8:25, Puppe found Rush in front, and the Eph right wing caromed a puck off a Colby defender and into the net.

"I think when that happens, you want to be resilient. Ideally, you're not having those situations occur," Gillis said, when asked about the Colby goal and the Williams response. "We did a good job of putting the pressure back on Colby."

That one goal was the only mistake Chloe Heiting made. The first-year from Woodbury, Minn., improved her record to 7-0-0 as a starting goalie.

"That's going to haunt me," Heiting said of Cafiero's goal. "I think it just snuck under my elbow. I made a funky, little poke check and it went straight out to the slot. I thought that was not a good thing."

Otherwise, Heiting and the Ephs had a good night in the defensive zone. Heiting made 18 saves on 19 shots, and faced only three shots in the third period. It would be fair to say that the Williams goalie did not have to make a lot of tough saves.

"My defense did a really good job of keep my line of sight open at all times," Heiting said, "and doing a really good job with my rebounds. Anything I needed help with, they're always there.

"They're on top of the rebounds, they're on top of the puck, and I have to give them all the credit tonight. They played awesome."

A goal by Avery Dunn at 11:40 of the first period gave Williams a 3-1 advantage after the first 20 minutes. Williams got a power-play goal with 12 seconds left in the second period. Colby's Tay Munson took down Rush and was whistled for checking at 19:29.

Exactly 19 seconds later, Williams' Bri Laycock cashed in on a loose puck in front of the goal.

While Williams did have four goals, leading scorer Meghan Halloran only had one assist. She was, however, outstanding in the third period by generating several good scoring chances. San Roman made 11 saves in the third period for Colby, and 23 in the game.

"We're firing on all cylinders right now," Heiting said, "offense, defense and I think we still have a whole other level we haven't hit yet."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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