Middlebury clinched the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament, securing a key 4-0 road win at Williams on Saturday afternoon. The second-ranked Panthers (16-2-3, 11-1-1) cap the two-game series with the Ephs (11-7-4, 8-5-2) on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in Kenyon Arena.
The hosts had a good opportunity to open the scoring the game's first three minutes when Gabi Montembeault spun and fired a shot from the slot that Panther goalie Anna Goldstein denied. Middlebury's best chance came with 6:02 on the clock, as Ellie Barney raced up the left wing and her shot off the rush was shouldered aside by Eph netminder Chloe Heiting. The teams went into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.
The Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead with a power-play marker with 7:21 expired in the middle stanza. Eva Hendrikson's shot from the point went through traffic for her second tally of the season. The visitors nearly doubled their advantage minutes later on another power play, but Heiting knocked down a shot by Madie Leidt from the slot and thwarted Claudia Vira on the rebound. The best scoring chance for Williams came with 1:50 on the clock, as Elizabeth Welch's sweeping shot was smothered by Goldstein.
In the final period, Middlebury exploded for three insurance goals, starting at the 5:04 mark when Leidt one-timed a shot from the slot following a Williams turnover. The Panthers cashed in on another power-play opportunity just over two minutes later when Jenna Letterie redirected in Hendrikson's slap pass from the point, while she was camped out by the left post. Letterie closed out the scoring with her second of the contest with 47.1 seconds remaining for the 4-0 final.
Middlebury's defense was tremendous in the final frame, limiting Williams to a lone shot on goal for a 23-16 edge for the game.
Goldstein finished with 16 saves for her fifth shutout of the season and second in as many starts, while Heiting had 19 stops for the hosts.
Middlebury excelled on special teams, going 2-3 on the power play and killed off both shorthanded situations. The Panthers are a perfect 40-40 on the penalty kill this season against NESCAC foes.