Behind the career-best six-goal effort of Kaylin Berger '13 (#18, photo lower right by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com), Wesleyan moved out to a 7-1 lead at halftime over its visiting NESCAC and Little Three rival Williams Sat., March 10, pulled ahead by as many as eight (9-1) and settled for a 13-8 victory in the season opener for both teams. When Berger added four goals in a close loss to Hamilton to make it a 10-goal weekend, the NESCAC bestowed its weekly Player of the Week honor upon her.
With the score tied, 1-1, after 10:39 of play, Wesleyan rattled off the next eight goals against Williams, six of them during the first half and two more through 15:19 of play in the second period, to hold a 9-1 lead, the game's largest differential. Williams then netted three straight in a span of 3:23 to cut the gap to 9-4 before Wesleyan pumped in three to regain an eight-goal margin at 12-4 with 5:16 to play. The Ephs scored four of the final five goals in the last four minutes to account for the final 13-8 score.
Berger netted three goals in each half, three of them on free-position bouncers, to post her best-ever game performance. She had three four-goal games a year ago as her previous high game. Kayla Ellman '13 added three goals and an assist for the Cardinals for a four-point outing. In her first career contest, Leah Sherman '15 put home a pair and dished out an assist for three points.
In goal for Wesleyan, Maggie Drowica '12 (#13, in helmet after the win) made 11 saves as she turned aside 11 of the first 13 shots on net taken by the Ephs before Williams, ranked 20th nationally in Division III, scored on six consecutive shots-on-goal in the final 13 minutes.
Wesleyan took the lead for good at 19:08 of the first half, responding to Williams' only goal of the period with a tally by Liz Chabot '12 on a midfield-to-goal run with the draw control. Wesleyan netted four goals in a span of 7:26 for a 5-1 margin. In the second half, Williams scored its final three over the last 2:52 of the contest.
Williams leads in the overall series by a wide margin, 30-8. Wesleyan won six of the first eight games in the series before Williams ran off 25 straight wins between 1984 and 2007. The Cardinals ended that run in 2008 with a 9-8 home victory, but Williams won the next three, including a 19-16 victory in Williamstown, Mass. last year in the highest-scoring game of the series.
Right back on the field with another NESCAC matchup Sun., March 11, seventh-ranked Hamilton snuck past homestanding Wesleyan, 11-10, in overtime in the first meeting of the teams in 20 years. The winning goal came with just :05.9 left. Both teams evened their overall and NESCAC records at 1-1 for the season.
Wesleyan led much of the game and held a 7-4 advantage early in the second half before the Continentals took their first lead of the contest with 16:44 to go in the second half, completing a four-goal run over a span of 6:01, giving the visitors an 8-7 lead. Wesleyan evened the count on a goal by Maddy Coulter '14 just 1:16 later as she slung in a waist-high shot from the right side off a feed by Ellman. Hamilton wasted little time regaining the lead, tallying just 14 ticks later. The Continentals held the lead for 9:12, with almost half the time passing as their goalie stood uncontested near her goal looking to start a clear. Wesleyan eventually got the ball back, however, and Berger netted her fourth goal of the game and 10th of the year at 6:02. She knocked the ball free from the goalie's stick behind the Hamilton net and out-of-bounds, then outraced the keeper to the goal after the restart to tuck the ball in. There was no further scoring before the end of regulation though Hamilton had the ball for the final 1:30 in the Wesleyan end but could not get off a shot.
In overtime, Hamilton struck first, winning the draw and scoring 44 seconds into the stanza. Wesleyan did much the same to open the second three-minute OT period as Chabot collected the draw and raced goalward, then deposited a high bouncer just under the crossbar with 2:48 to go. Hamilton then won the draw but turned the ball over in the Wesleyan end. The Cardinals were unable to clear and Hamilton got the ball back. Drowica then picked up her 13th save with a big stop, and Wesleyan got the loose ball. Again, Wesleyan failed to clear and Hamilton had possession with 1:13 to go. The Continentals ran the clock down under 30 seconds before getting its offense in gear and converted in the closing second.
Wesleyan had built a 4-1 lead by the 12:33 mark of the first half as Berger netted a pair along with goals from Sherman and Chabot. Then Hamilton tied the game with a trifecta in a span of 4:20 before Wesleyan got the final two goals of the half for a 6-4 edge at intermission. Berger completed her first-half hat trick followed by a goal from Ellman with a high shot at 2:05. When Chabot opened the second half scoring with a low shot at 25:24, the Cardinals equaled their largest lead of the game at three, 7-4. In total, Wesleyan led for 38:50 during the contest while Hamilton held the edge for 13:02 and never led by more than a goal. The teams were tied for 14:08 in the only the second-ever meeting of the squads and first since a 14-6 Hamilton victory in Florida during the 1992 season.
Ahead for the squad is home game vs. Eastern Conn. Wed., March 14.