Facing second-ranked nationally and NESCAC leader Middlebury in the first of back-to-back games between the teams Fri., Jan. 10, Wesleyan came back from a 2-0 deficit to forge a 2-2 overtime deadlock. The teams did battle again in Middletown Sat., Jan. 11 to complete their conference series. This time Middlebury prevailed, 4-1, in another well-played, competitive contest.
The Cardinals, who have never beaten Middlebury in 52 all-time meetings, came away with just the fourth tie in the series that favors Middlebury so one-sidedly, and the first in seven years as the squads ended in a 1-1 tie Jan. 12, 2007. Since then, the Panthers had rattled off 13 consecutive victories while outscoring the Cardinals 90-8 with six shutouts over the stretch. Middlebury played in the NCAA title game a year ago, finishing as runner-up to Elmira, 1-0.
Wesleyan got even vs. Middlebury Friday when Jordan Schildhaus '15 (#19, main photo) got her fourth goal and 10th point of the season. She redirected a slow point shot by Laura Wasnick '15 midway through its path, catching the Middlebury keeper going too far to her right to make the play as the puck went back to the goalie's left just :34 into the third period. The teams played the final 24:26 without further scoring. Wesleyan had to kill off a short-handed situation in overtime just :40 into the extra frame with the teams skating four-on-four, as is the case for women's overtime in conference games. Cardinal goalie Corinne Rivard '16 (#1, photo insert upper left) made five of her 32 saves during overtime to keep the game tied. Middlebury outshot Wesleyan by a 34-24 margin in the game.
Middlebury scored the game's first two goals on the power play, the initial one at 10:02 of the first period with a wrester from left circle. The second came at 3:59 of the second frame on a rebound of a shot that had been saved by Rivard.
Wesleyan got on the board at 16:57 of the second when Jessica Brennan '17 dug out a puck from the right corner and found the stick of Laura Mead '16 for a high poke-in just inside the right post. It was the first goal of the campaign for Mead and tied Brennan for the team lead in scoring with her 10th point, equaling Schildhaus.
Brennan took over scoring leadership in the rematch Saturday as she posted the Cardinals' goal after a shot by Mead from the right circle went high and wide of the cage in the second period. Brennan was there on the left side to collar the rebound and stuff it in at 14:01 to cut the Panthers' lead at the time to 3-1. After more than 25 minutes of scoreless action, Middlebury got the final marker with :22 left after Rivard, who ended the game with 26 stops, had been pulled for a sixth skater.
Middlebury scored its first two goals on the power play, giving the Panthers four power-play goals over the weekend. The first came with Wesleyan two players down at 5:18 of the first period and the second at 3:46 of the second period. Middlebury made it a 3-0 game with its only even-strength goal of the weekend less than three minutes later.
Shots in the game were quite close with Middlebury holding a 30-23 edge.