NEW LONDON, Conn. – Junior Elena Gualtieri (Rome, N.Y.) scored twice in the opening period to help lift the Connecticut College women's ice hockey team to a 3-1 triumph over Colby in a NESCAC quarterfinal matchup on Saturday afternoon at Dayton Arena.
Connecticut College (15-5-5) dominated the first period by most notably attempting the first 13 shots of the contest. Sophomore Kylie Wilkes (Howell, N.J.) hit a pipe and senior Katlyn Paiva (Rehoboth, Mass.) had a high percentage shot from the slot denied in the opening minutes to set the tone, as goalie Cierra San Roman was forced to make 11 saves in the opening seven minutes.
The Camels eventually cashed in at the 6:55 mark of the contest. Senior captain Lily Connolly (Duxbury, Mass.) won a faceoff from the right circle and sent the puck back to sophomore Ashley Carbone (Wallingford, Conn.), who unleashed a shot that was redirected into the net by Gualtieri.
Less than five minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead on a failed clear attempt by the Mules. Gualtieri stole away a mishandled pass in the Colby defensive zone and blitzed through the middle to add her second marker of the game at 11:05. The Camels took a 2-0 lead and a 23-5 shot advantage into the first intermission.
After a scoreless second period, Connecticut College (15-5-5) all but put the game away early in the third when sophomore Lauren Helm (Frisco, Texas) batted down the puck with her glove, skated along the left side of the boards and then slipped the puck to an open freshman Erin Dillon (Hazelt, N.J.) through a crowd of Mules. The freshman then wristed a shot that slipped past San Roman to give the hosts a 3-0 cushion.
Colby, however, did not go down without a fight and pulled San Roman early to gain an extra skater. After a Camel was called off for checking to create a 6-on-4 situation, the Mules found a way to get on the board. Cassidy Holzer, who was on the right point, slid a pass over to Tess Dupre for a shot that first hit off sophomore defender Erin Healy (Melrose, Mass.). Anna Cosentino then drove in through traffic and was able to pot the loose puck at 15:18.
The Mules tried to pull San Roman again to create additional scoring opportunities, but Mertz came away with three saves down the stretch to clinch the victory for the Camels. With the win, Connecticut College also matched a program record by winning its 15th game for the third straight season.
Mertz picked up the victory between the pipes by making 18 saves for Connecticut College, which outshot its opponent by a 43-19 margin. San Roman suffered the loss despite making 40 saves, including 21 in the first period.
Connecticut College will next trek to Middlebury to face Amherst in the NESCAC semifinal round for the third straight season. The game is slated to be played on Saturday, March 3 at 4:00 p.m.