Women's Hockey Falls to Amherst, 2-0, in NESCAC Quarterfinals

Hannah Oganeku '18
Hannah Oganeku '18

Hartford, Conn. – Amherst junior Alex Toupal (New Brighton, Minn.) scored twice to lift the Purple & White past the Trinity College Bantams, 2-0, on Saturday in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Hockey Championship Tournament Quarterfinal at the Koeppel Center in Hartford. Amherst, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, improves to 13-7-5 on the year while No. 4-seeded Trinity falls to 9-13-3 overall. Amherst moves on to next weekend's semifinal round hosted by Middlebury College.

Toupal scored once in the second and third period as Amherst earned the shutout victory, its seventh of the season. Amherst goalie Sabrina Dobbins (New Castle, N.H.) recorded 21 saves in the win while her counterpart, Trinity junior netminder Sydney Belinskas (Port Orange, Fla.), finished the day with 24 stops. Amherst held a 26-21 shot advantage in a game that featured two penalties each by the two teams.

Trinity junior Hannah Oganeku (Castle Pines, Colo.) nearly poked a loose puck into the net in the opening minute but Dobbins managed to kick the puck into the corner for Amherst's defense to collect. Amherst nearly broke the scoreless tie with 16:40 to play in the period off a faceoff in Trinity's defensive zone when Katelyn Pantera (Dedham, Mass.) controlled the puck off the faceoff win and deked Belinskas, but Belinskas somehow managed to make the save despite falling onto her back. Later in the period, junior Melissa Maffeo (Melrose, Mass.) nearly connected with senior captain Kate Fraley (Edina, Minn.) for a score in front of the net, but Fraley couldn't get a handle on Maffeo's pass as the puck bounced away without incident. The Bantams had another scoring opportunity with 2:30 remaining in the period as Oganeku and classmate Kelcie Finn (Weymouth, Mass.) led a 2-on-1 in front of Dobbins. Oganeku tried sending a pass across the middle to a wide-open Finn, positioned at the far-side post, but Amherst senior captain Caitlyn Ryan (Burlington, Mass.) made a great defensive play as she laid out, stopping the puck from having a chance to get to Finn. The game remained scoreless as the teams entered the first intermission, despite combining for 17 first period shots.

Trinity earned the first power play of the game with 14 minutes to play in the second frame thanks to an Amherst tripping penalty. Maffeo put a pair of shots on net during the advantage but Dobbins proved up to the task both times to keep the game knotted at zeros. With 10:07 remaining in the second period, Amherst took a 1-0 lead when Toupal picked off a pass in Trinity's defensive zone and beat Belinskas to the back of the net with a wrist shot. A Bantam tripping penalty late in the period gave the Purple & White a power play but Trinity's penalty kill unit did its job to keep Amherst off the scoreboard during the two minute advantage.

After a Trinity penalty in the first minute of the third period, Amherst sophomore Jocelyn Hunyadi (Pepper Pike, Ohio) scored what appeared to be Amherst's second goal of the game, however the officials waved it off after determining she kicked the puck in. Trinity killed the rest of the power play to keep the deficit at one. The Bantam offense kept pressure on Amherst all period as they tried to find the equalizer. Fraley nearly found just that with seven minutes left to play as she fired a wrist shot towards net, but the puck flew right into the glove of Dobbins who snagged it out of mid-air. Trinity went on the power play with 3:02 remaining but Amherst's defense held tough once again to cling to the 1-0 lead. Trinity pulled Belinskas with 1:03 left to play, gaining an extra attacker, however Toupal iced the game, scoring her second goal of the game on an empty-netter with 39 seconds left, lifting Amherst to the 2-0 victory.