“We couldn’t be more excited about this weekend and [Tuesday’s] win against Connecticut College,” said senior co-captain Amanda Muller.
The Camels came to Orr Rink last night in the Jeffs’ pivotal season finale. Amherst went into the game knowing it had already secured a spot in the playoffs; a loss would assure the team a road trip to begin the NESCAC Tournament.
Head Coach Jim Plumer’s team came out skating hard, fighting for playoff position and momentum. It was the Camels who struck first, however, grabbing a 1-0 lead with a goal at 12:08 in the first period off of a deflection goal from Camel forward Katie Roth. The Jeffs would quickly answer back, though, first with a goal off a rebound from defender Kirsten Forsberg ’07 to tie the game. A few minutes later rookie defender Emily Cronin ’07 gave the Jeffs the lead for good with a goal of her own. Defender Rachel Simon ’07 would add a goal, her 13th of the year, in the second period, and forward Renee Sisti ’06 struck twice in the third. The final score was 5-3.
With her second goal of the game, an empty-netter, Sisti sealed the win for her team and secured the team’s scoring title for herself. The sophomore finished the regular season leading the team both in goals (14) and assists (11). Forward Alison White ’04, who registered two assists against Conn last night, finished her senior campaign as the team’s second-leading scorer, with 23 points. Simon rounds out the top three with 21 points.
The final week of the season began just as well for the Jeffs, as they romped to a 5-0 win over Trinity College at home on Friday. The Bantams, 0-14 in conference play, and just 2-18 overall, looked overmatched against the Jeffs. Trinity could hardly move the puck out of its own zone, and mustered just 14 shots overall against the tight Amherst defense. The Jeff offense thrived at the other end of the ice, peppering Bantam goaltender Mimi MacKinnon with 41 shots on goal and finding the back of the net five times. Simon led the team with two goals and an assist, while White added two points.
The following day Amherst hosted Wesleyan, the team the Jeffs have been pursuing for the fourth spot in the conference all season. Despite falling behind by a goal early in this game, Amherst stormed back, netting four consecutive goals to seize a 4-1 lead heading into the third period. Sisti led the Amherst comeback with two goals. Wesleyan made a run, scoring its second goal of the game early in the third before cutting the deficit to one with a four-on-four goal with a little over a minute to play. Amherst goalie Lindsay Grabowski ’07 and the rest of the Amherst defense survived the late scare, though, and hung on for the hard-fought 4-3 win. Cardinal sniper Anna Siliciano figured into the scoring of all three Wesleyan goals.
For the Lord Jeffs, this week has been an emphatic cap on an impressive season. “They were probably three of the biggest games of our season,” said Muller.
The Jeffs finished at 7-9 in the NESCAC, a number that doesn’t scream success but reveals a healthy state of affairs.
Discounting losses to conference powerhouses Middlebury, Bowdoin and Williams Colleges (teams that are all in the top 10 nationally), the Jeffs went 7-3, putting them atop the conference’s second tier. Amherst has won six of its eight non-conference games as well, setting their overall mark at 13-11. The Jeffs have also broken the school record for wins in a season in each of their last three outings. This year’s squad has continued the momentum of years past and given new coach Jim Plumer a solid foundation for the future.
Now the Jeffs will have to wait and see who they will play in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs. The tournament is scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb. 28. If Amherst has the fourth seed, Saturday’s game will take place at Orr Rink; if not, the team will go on the road, as either the fifth, sixth or seventh seed.
The Jeffs are confident that they can make an impact in the postseason. “We just keep raising our level of play,” said Muller. “We just need to continue to do that.”