MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Elmira junior captain Stefanie McLean scored unassisted late in the second period, and the Golden Eagles (4-2) held off a furious third period rally by Williams (0-2) for a 3-2 victory. McLean grabbed a defensive turnover on the right corner and walked in along the goal line, beating goalie Denise McCulloch with a high backhand.
Elmira coach Paul Nemetz-Carlson noted they had spoken about leaders in the locker room: “We asked our upperclassmen… Someone has to step up and say this is going to be the play that defines the game… and Stef beating two people out of the corner, upperclassman, captain makes a play to win the game.”
Elmira took leads of 1-0 at 1:10 of the first period and 2-1 at 4:08 of the second period, and each time Williams answered.
“We wanted to be in midseason form… to see how we would stack up against the top teams… and I think we did pretty well,” said Williams senior defenseman Ellissa Popov.
Williams could not answer McLean’s goal, despite a 13-4 shot advantage in the third.
Williams coach Michelyne Pinard said her team was “the fittest Williams team I’ve seenit is a tribute to how hard they worked this fall, they were in mid-season form in order to compete and I think our third period showed that.”
The large ice surface at Middlebury’s fabulous Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena seemed to tire the Soaring Eagles as the game wore on. Elmira’s bigger players might have been expected to wear down Williams.
“The ice surface was definitely a huge change,” said Elmira’s senior captain Sheena Calic. “[The 14 freshmen] a lot of them have not played two games in two days in their lives… We handled everything well, we can only get better.”
Elmira sophomore goalie Cara McGurry stopped 26 shots, half of them in the third period. Her success this weekend bodes well for the Soaring Eagles’ status as a national contender.
“There are so many positives to take out of this weekend with a young team,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “We proved this weekend we are still among the top teams in the country. People who had been in minor roles, like Cara McGurry, have stepped up, she is ready to assume the role of a topflight goaltender… which is one of the question marks everybody had about our team at the beginning of the year.”