#8 Middlebury Clipped by #10 Williams, 2-1

Elise Park registered an assist for the Panthers on Friday.
Elise Park registered an assist for the Panthers on Friday.

Williams's Bri Laycock scored midway through the third period, lifting the Ephs to a 2-1 decision over host Middlebury on Friday in a key NESCAC contest. Williams and the Panthers are tied for first place with the teams closing out the regular season tomorrow night in Massachusetts, capping their two-game series. A Middlebury win would earn the eighth-ranked Panthers (14-5-3, 9-4-2) the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament, while the 10th-ranked Ephs (16-4-3, 9-4-2) can win or tie to secure first place.

Middlebury had back-to-back power plays with nine seconds of overlap time in the early stages of the first period, but Williams kept the hosts without a quality scoring chance. The Panthers threatened with less than seven minutes left on the clock with consecutive shots, as Jenna Letterie was denied from the right circle on a two-on-one break by Eph goalie Chloe Heiting, who also thwarted Madie Leidt's rebound bid. Williams had an opportunity while on a power play when Laycock's shot from the bottom of the left circle was shouldered away by Panther netminder Lin Han.

Late in the middle frame, Williams took a 1-0 lead with 4:31 showing on the clock, as Meghan Halloran's shot from the right circle found its way through traffic and into the Panther net. The hosts tied the score at the 19:39 mark on a play that started in the defensive zone. A poke check by Elise Park gave the puck to Leidt, who carried it deep into the Eph zone. Her centering pass into the slot was swept in by Letterie for her ninth tally of the season.

Both teams had power plays in the final stanza, with the Panthers coming up empty early in the frame. Williams had 37 seconds of a 5-on-3 power with the hosts muting that, but the Ephs tallied on the back end of the single-player advantage. Delaney Szlezyngier's shot from the point hit off a body in front and Laycock swatted the free puck into the net at the 9:22 mark.

The Panthers had another power play with less than seven minutes remaining and fired numerous shots on goal, but Heiting had an answer for each bid. Middlebury pulled Han with 1:22 remaining and had one shot on goal in that span, as Williams held on for the one-goal victory.

Han finished with 13 saves and Heiting made 27 stops, as the hosts held a 28-15 edge. Middlebury was 0-5 on the power play and the Ephs converted 1-3.