Women’s Hockey Reaches Nescac Semis for 16th Time in 17 Years

By SEBASTIAN SANCHEZ

Advancing to their 16th Nescac semifinal on Saturday, Feb. 24, the Middlebury Panthers dismantled the Wesleyan Cardinals 5–0 in the quarterfinal round.

Maddie Winslow ’18 started the Panthers off four minutes into the first period with a beautiful shorthanded goal. Wesleyan mishandled the puck at the right point of the ice, and Winslow pounced on the loose puck to pass it to Jessica Young ’18. Young carried the puck down the ice, moving into the right circle and feeding Winslow who one-timed it passed Wesleyan’s goalie. Sidney Portner ’20, who would score later in the second half, almost put the hosts up, but her shot ricocheted off the post and back onto the ice.

The hosts ran away with the lead in the second period, scoring three goals over the course of the stanza. Ellie Barney ’21 led the charge, breaking in from the left wing and securing the puck before scoring with a short-side shot. The score was Barney’s four career goal and eighth point on the season in 25 games played.

Madie Liedt ’21, who has had a phenomenal run in the last several games, scored her first of two goals on a power-play advantage. With the Panthers swinging around the outskirts of the zone, Hayley Lafontaine ’18 fed Leidt, who blasted the puck from the top of the zone and through the outstretched pads of Wesleyan’s goalie. Porter would redeem her missed bid in the first, adding to the hosts lead. Young took a shot on goal, which was saved, but pushed out onto the open ice. Porter found the loose puck and blasted a shot into the corner to give the host a 4–0 lead.

Leidt, for her second score of the game, struck after a Wesleyan power-play expired. Winslow found the loose puck and fed it to Leidt who dangled up the ice and blasted a shot off the back crossbar to put the Panthers up 5–0 and give them the win. Wesleyan could not find the back of the net all game, taking a meek 10 shots on goal — all of which were denied by Lin Han ’20 for her sixth shutout of the season. In contrast, Middlebury took 36 shots on goal, showing off the offensive skills that propelled them to the semi-final match.

Rachael St. Clair ’19 reflected on the team’s goals for the weekend:

“I think we just focus on what’s in front of us and tackle the battles one at a time. We know that every practice and game from here on out is a privilege and maintaining focus and energy throughout the week have been two key components to our success so far.”

“We’re playing for one more week together and that is what has kept us going,” said Janka Hlinka ’18. “We’ve kept the chemistry going by spending time on and off the field — whether it that be watching film or getting meals. Our drive to accomplish the same goal has built our chemistry and we look forward to playing this weekend.”

Elizabeth Wulf ’18 echoed her captain’s sentiments of motivation, team chemistry and determination.

“We are laying for a common goal and we are taking it one game at time. We know our next game could be our last, so we go into each game playing like it is the last one we will ever play. We are so focused on playing the way we know how, every shift, every period and every game. I mean, you can see our team chemistry, from the way we move to the way we pass the puck. We are just pumped for this weekend.”

Middlebury will face the Bowdoin Polar Bears on Saturday, March 3, and the winner of the contest will advance to the Nescac championships.

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Women’s Hockey Reaches Nescac Semis for 16th Time in 17 Years