Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
Plattsburgh, NY. — The Middlebury women’s hockey team suffered a 5-3 loss to top-ranked Plattsburgh State in an NCAA semifinal game played in Stafford Arena. The host Cardinals (28-1) advance to the NCAA Championship game on Saturday night against Wisconsin-River Falls, while the fourth-ranked Panthers (21-5-3) will take on Elmira in a third-place contest at 3:30 p.m. Julia Neuburger was stellar in net for the Panthers, making a career-high 36 saves.
Middlebury went on the power play 3:08 into the game, but the Panthers were unable to get on the board despite a good chance early. Shortly after the power play expired, the Cardinals went on a power play of their own, capitalizing just as it expired at the 7:26 mark. Karen Hudson scored her fifth of the season, one-timing a pass in the slot after a feed from the corner by Muna Fadel.
The Cardinals had another power-play opportunity at the 9:48 mark, but were unable to take advantage. Just 14 seconds after her penalty had expired, Middlebury’s Jessica Young scored her 12th of the season to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:58 remaining in the first period. Janka Hlinka fed the puck ahead to Young on the left wing, who made a great move past a defender before snapping a shot into the far corner of the net.
Plattsburgh State found itself shorthanded 15:07 into the period, but Middlebury was unable to take the lead. The Panthers’ best chance came on a feed from Young to Maddie Winslow, but Winslow’s shot from point-blank range was denied by Cardinal netminder Camille Leonard (21 saves). The period ended in a 1-1 tie with Plattsburgh State holding a 13-7 shots advantage.
The hosts wasted little time going back on top in the second period, as Kayla Meneghin stuffed in her own rebound for her 23rd of the year at the 1:08 mark. She nearly made it a 3-1 game three minutes later, but her breakaway attempt went high.
The Cardinals took a 3-1 lead at 5:36 when Fadel scored her fourth of the season on a hard wrister from the slot after a feed from Meneghin.
Neuburger kept it a 3-1 game with a pair of nice saves at the 12:50 and 13:10 marks just before a Plattsburgh power play began. Neuburger came up big once again on the ensuing power play, making a big glove save on a blast from the left point by Megan Delay.
The Cardinals scored their first power-play goal of the game at 16:10, when Bridget Balisy picked the top-left corner of the net for her 13th of the season. Plattsburgh State struck again just 59 seconds later when Giovanna Senese and Melissa Sheeran worked a give-and-go, with Senese converting her 12th of the season for a 5-1 lead.
Young scored her second of the game for the Panthers 12:35 into the period, giving her 13 goals on the season. Elizabeth Wulf batted down a puck high in the air that Young poked over the goal line to make it a 5-2 game.
Wulf scored a goal of her own with 2:19 remaining, one-timing in a crossing pass from Winslow. The tally was the seventh of the year for Wulf.
Middlebury pulled Neuburger with 1:56 remaining and sustained continuous pressure on the Cardinal net, but was unable to score.
Plattsburgh State finished with a 41-23 shots advantage in the game, going 1-6 on the power play, while the Panthers were 0-4. Young and Winslow each extended their point streaks to 11 games.
The teams have now each won three NCAA Tournament games against one another, with the most recent meeting in 2013 – an NCAA semifinal win for the Panthers.