Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By EARL SWINSON Special to the Telegram
BRUNSWICK - Ashley Ryan had a goal and two assists, and Lauren Sullivan registered 37 saves as Elmira shut out Bowdoin 4-0 in NCAA Division III women's hockey quarterfinal Saturday night at Watson Arena.
The Polar Bears (21-5-2) came out strong and had the better of play in the first period, outshooting the Soaring Eagles 13-5, but the visitors scored the lone goal.
That came with 1:16 left in the period, as Ryan, low on the left side, passed across to Erin Weston for a backhand shot into the near side.
"It took us a bit to settle," said Elmira Coach Dean Jackson. "But that's typical of a road game. We just told the ladies to stick to our game plan."
Brooke Wilgosh made it 2-0 by ripping a slap shot just under the crossbar with Elmira (22-5-1) on a power play.
"We felt like we were controlling play," said Bowdoin Coach Marissa O'Neill. "But we were down two goals. That's something we've done to other teams this year, so we were definitely unsatisfied."
Polar Bear goalie Kayla Lessard came up with a pair of outstanding saves to keep it close, sprawling to deny Taylor Steadman on a breakaway and then kicking out Tania Lamoureaux's bid.
Johnston put Elmira up 3-0 at 3:33 of the third period after a feed from Caitlin Metcalf.
"That was our game plan," said Jackson. "We knew their goalie was very aggressive, so we tried to get her to have to move across, and it worked."
The Polar Bears had a two-player advantage for 1:22 halfway through the third period, and O'Neill pulled Lessard for a six-on-three advantage, but the hosts came up empty despite constant pressure.
"They pull it in real tight, with a five-goaltender set (at even strength)," said O'Neill, "and it's tough to get the puck through. We practiced it all week."
"Lauren made some fantastic saves," said Jackson, "and we helped her with our shot-blocking."
Ryan closed it out with 2:08 remaining, scoring from the left side after Cassidy Delainey's initial shot was blocked in front.
"Bowdoin has tremendous team speed and moves the puck well," said Jackson, "but we were able to capitalize on our opportunities, and that was the difference."
"I couldn't be prouder of my players," said O'Neill. "Coaches talk about the journey and the experience, but when you get to the NCAAs, you want the W."
Bowdoin junior Madeline Lane of Topsham said of her first NCAA experience, "It was unbelievable. I never saw us getting here. It was a team of 20 awesome girls and eight seniors that I'll miss a lot.
"I have some big shoes to fill next year, but this is just the beginning."