MIDDLEBURY, VER. — Behind two goals each from juniors Angela Kapus and Erin Neil, the number-one ranked Middlebury Panthers rolled to a 9-0 victory over the Amherst Jeffs in the first official NESCAC game for the teams formerly members of the ECAC Division III league.
The Panthers opened up defense of their back-to-back national championships in fine fashion, shaking off some initial rust to dominate the Jeffs, who are looking to improve upon their 7-16-1 record over last year and lost only one senior to graduation.
Middlebury jumped out to a quick lead as Kapus broke in from the blue line just 53 seconds into the game and put the puck past Amherst goalie Heidi Alexander.
Five minutes later, at 6:11 of the first, senior assistant captain Catherine Elkins gave Middlebury a 2-0 margin. Late in the first period, Erin Neil completed a nifty wrap-around, having received the puck from twin sister Amber Neil.
Four minutes into the second period, Erin Neil scored her second of the game, finding the puck in a scrum of players in front of the net and putting it home. Just twenty seconds later Amber Neil scored her first of the season as she broke into the zone off a pass from freshman defender Allison Liati, moving the score to 5-0.
At 7:05 of the second, senior Anna Hastings took a feed from Nina Kieves on a two-on-one breakaway and buried the puck past Alexander, who was unable to rotate across the crease to follow the Kieves pass that left the defender helpless. At 9:49 of the second, the Middlebury margin became 7-0, when an Elkins slapshot from the point deflected to the stick of Kristen Reid, who calmly banged it home from right in front of the net.
The Panther attack slowed down in the third period, with a goal by Heather Wende at 3:36 and a wrist shot with 24 seconds remaining by Kapus to make the final score 9-0.
The Panthers’ Megan Hutchinson stopped the 2 shots she faced in net to earn the shutout win, while the Jeff’s Alexander made 32 saves on the night. Kapus finished with four points off two goals and two assists, Jean Butler tallied three assists, and Amber Neil earned her goal plus two assists.