Laura Corcoran '16 Allows Just 1 Goal in Two Wins over Hamilton as Women's Hockey Clinches NESCAC Playoff Spot - Team Then Falls to Colby, 2-0
Three Cardinals, Cara Jankowski '15, Jordan Schildhaus '15 and Jess Brennan '17, all posted a goal and an assist to lead Wesleyan to its largest margin of victory ever over visiting Hamilton, 5-0, in the first of two NESCAC games between the teams over the weekend starting Fri., Feb. 7. The squads closed out the conference series Sat., Feb. 8 and the Cardinals made it a sweep with a 2-1 triumph. Though Hamilton leads the series, 20-13-1, Wesleyan has now won four of the last five meetings and of Wesleyan's 13 all-time wins, six have come via shutout.
Goalie Laura Corcoran '16 (#30 in photo) came up with 27 saves to post her third shutout of the year in game one as she is one of the NESCAC leaders for both save percentage and goals-against average this season, now with .944 and 1.56 figures, respectively. Wesleyan was outshot in the first contest, 27-18.
Wesleyan got on the board just 1:03 into the game when Brennan got control of the puck deep in the left corner and curled in front to tuck the puck in for her team-leading eighth goal of the campaign. She added an assist on Laura Wasnick's '15 (#10 in photo) goal at 9:52 of the second period, just 15 seconds into a Cardinal power play. Schildhaus made the primary pass to the left circle to Wasnick for a one-timer high to the short side. It was Wasnick's second goal of the year. Wesleyan made it 3-0 on Schildhaus' quick shot from the left side after Jankowski won a faceoff in the Continental zone and the draw went right to Schildahus, giving her goal number five on the season.
The final two Wesleyan goals came with less that two minutes remaining with the Hamilton goalie on the bench in favor of an extra skater. With Wesleyan short-handed, the puck was deflected by Jankowski to center ice and she raced to pick up the loose puck. As she entered the Hamilton zone, she was taken down from behind and the officials awarded Jankowski her fifth goal this year. Sydney Morgan '14 got the final goal with seven second left, hitting the open net one second after a Wesleyan penalty expired but still with a Continental in the box.
While the five-goal margin was the largest ever for Wesleyan against Hamilton, having secured a pair of 4-0 wins in the series, it was also the first time this season that Hamilton allowed more than four goals to an opponent. Though winless in conference play, Hamilton had not lost a game to a league rival by more than three goals this season, including four games against nationally ranked Middlebury and Amherst.
The second outing was defensive battle, but Wesleyan got on the board 37 seconds into the second period as Schildhaus got her sixth goal of the year, banging home the rebound of an initial shot by Jakowski on a 2-on-1 break that was saved. At 14:11, Brennan notched goal number nine of the year, receiving a pass from Laura Mead '16 on the inside edge of the right circle and pushing in a backhander for the 2-0 lead.
Wesleyan carried the 2-0 margin into the final minute, but with its goalie pulled for an extra skater, Hamilton found the net behind Corcoran with 35 seconds to go, breaking up her bid for a second straight shutout. Still she finished with 23 saves as Wesleyan held a 29-24 margin on shots this time out. WEsleyan was particularly dominant in the third period, holding the Continentals without a shot over the first 12 minutes while racking up 12, finishing the period with a 13-6 edge.
With the two wins, Wesleyan clinched its first spot in the NESCAC tournament since the 2003-04 season. Now 7-9-4 on the year, the Cardinals have their highest win production in 10 years.
Wesleyan began a NESCAC series vs. Colby, Fri., Feb. 14, in hopes of furthering its position for the playoffs. The game went into the third period still in a scoreless tie, but Colby got on the board at 2:29 and added a power-play marker at 9:03, accounting for all the game's scoring in the 2-0 Mule win. The teams conclude their weekend play Sat., Feb. 15. Wesleyan outshot Colby, 31-28, in the tightly contested battle.