For the first time, Manhattanville did not play an ECAC East women’s playoff game on their own ice. However, Manhattanville will keep their perfect record of appearing in the championship game as they defeated New England College, 3-1, in the semifinal game at RIT. Manhattanville has never lost an ECAC East title.
The game turned out to be a goaltending battle between Manhanttanville’s Karine Turmel who made 18 saves and New England College’s Danielle Giancola with 35 saves.
“Danielle’s a great goalie stepping up big throughout the year,” NEC coach Ed Ardito said. “She’s always in the right position, making the saves.”
Manhattanville coach Nicole Hall said of her goalie, “She comes up big for us.”
New England College jumped out to a quick lead 59 seconds into the game. Sarah Tracey, the team’s second leader scorer, brought the puck down the right side. She had everyone thinking she was going to pass to the opposite side, but instead took the shot. It beat Turmel on the near side. The assist went to the team’s top scorer, Elizabeth Ross.
Despite the goal, the puck spent most of the time in the Pilgrims’ zone. Manhattanville finally was awarded for their efforts, tying the game at 6:05. Amanda Nonis scored from in close, assisted by Jessica Zimmerman and Alex Blackwell.
Manhattanville continued applying the pressure in the first period, outshooting New England College, 15-5. The closest the Valiants came to taking the lead was while shorthanded, when Monique Rafferty went in on a breakaway. Rafferty made a great move beating the last defenseman, but it put the shot on her backhand. She wasn’t able to get enough power on it.
“We got a lot of opportunities, but weren’t able to finish,” Hall said.
The Valiants had to wait till the second period to finally take the lead at 7:49 shortly after a powerplay expired. Nonis skated the puck around the net and as soon as she came out the other side, beat Giancola before she could get across for her second goal of the night.
New England College was able to turn the tide when it got two successive powerplays. However, Karine Turmel made three miraculous saves to protect the Manhattanville lead. On one save, Ross had a wide open net, but Turmel dove across and barely got her outstretched stick on the shot.
“We got caught out of position a few times during those powerplays,” Hall said.
“This team doesn’t get down,” Ardito said of the missed opportunities. “We kept battling back.”
Surprisingly, New England College pulled their goalie with 2:45 left.
“We’ve been practicing for a week to keep the puck in the zone with the goalie pulled,” Ardito said.
The Pilgrims initially did keep the puck in the opposition’s zone, but a pass across the blueline from one defenseman to another was picked off by Zimmerman. She went in alone and easily put the puck into the empty net to seal the victory with 2:29 left to play.
Manhattanville plays the host team, RIT, for the ECAC East championship at 2:00 on Sunday. The Valiants lost twice during the regular season to the Tigers. Both those games were also in Rochester.
“They have one line that generates 90% of their goals,” Hall said. “We are going to have to contain them.”