RYE, N.Y. - The Stevenson women's ice hockey team claimed the inaugural Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Women's Ice Hockey Championship as the Mustangs posted a 3-1 MAC and United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) victory over Manhattanville Saturday afternoon at Playland Ice Casino.
With the win, the Mustangs (13-7-5, 9-3-2 UCHC/5-0-1 MAC) finished the inaugural MAC season unbeaten and extend their overall unbeaten streak to 14 games. The win was also the 80th in program history as the team improves to 60-5-3 all-time when scoring at least three goals.
The Valiants (9-13-3, 6-7-2 UCHC/4-1-1 MAC) went on the offensive early in the contest but it was the Stevenson defense that prevailed as sophomores Carly McGee and Allyson Barlow combined for three blocked shots in the opening minutes. The Mustangs recorded the first two shots on net but Manhattanville responded with seven straight with all seven turned away by junior Caitie Darosa.
After not being whistled for a penalty in the opening game of the two-game series, the Mustangs were called for the first penalty of the game but the penalty kill units did not allow a shot on net as both seniors Allie Bruns and Sarah Antonelli blocked the only two shot attempts. Just 1:12 after the Valiants power play expired, Stevenson went on the power play for the first time but Rose Pijaca recorded a pair of saves to keep the game scoreless.
Just under three minutes remaining in the opening period, senior Monica Pozuc carried the puck into the offensive zone while the other four skaters went for a change but Pozuc was able to keep control of the puck despite losing her footing and fired a shot right inside the post on the stick side of Pijaca for the score. It is the 11th goal of the season for Pozuc, who made her 100th career appearance in a Stevenson uniform. Junior Cierra Siemasko picked up her 10th assist of the season.
With 1:32 remaining in the opening period, both teams were whistled for a roughing call to produce four-on-four play. Manhattanville then committed a second penalty with 47 seconds left in the period, giving the Mustangs a four-on-three power play for 45 seconds before resuming the power play five-on-four for the remaining 1:15 that carried into the second period. But Stevenson was held without a shot on the two-minute advantage.
Early in the second period, the Valiants went on the power play but it was the Mustangs who controlled play, shorthanded. Senior Chelsea Blackburn poked away a pass from point to point and had a shorthanded opportunity but her shot hit off the crossbar and out of play. On the ensuing face-off, Blackburn won the draw back to Pozuc for a one-timer but it was saved by Pijaca.
With 41 seconds remaining in the penalty kill, senior Chelsea Ellis poked the puck out of the defensive zone and was able to control it in the Mustangs' offensive zone and got a shorthanded backhanded shot off that Pijaca could not control allowing senior Savannah Sommers to poke it home for the score for her fifth goal of the season. It is the fourth shorthanded goal for Stevenson this season, tying the program record. Junior Allie Sabatini was credited with the secondary assist, her fifth of the season.
After a Stevenson penalty produced four-on-four play, the Valiants won an offensive zone face-off and were able to possess the puck as Zoey Pellowitz fired a shot from inside the blue line that got past Darosa. It was the first goal in Darosa's last 169:42 as the junior has allowed just three goals over her last four starts. Darosa finished with 21 saves.
The teams were once again called for matching minors with 2:14 remaining in regulation. And with 1:26, Manhattanville pulled Pijaca in favor of an extra skater but the Mustangs made the Valiants pay as Sommers netted her second goal of the night, this time on an empty net from inside Stevenson's defensive zone.
The Mustangs outshot Manhattanville, 28-22 and won 27 of the 53 face-offs. Stevenson finished 0-for-6 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. The visitors recorded 20 blocked shots, including a game-high four by Sabatini. Barlow added three while the trio of Antonelli, Bruns and McGee all had two.
Stevenson will host Manhattanville in the first round of the UCHC playoffs on Saturday, February 24. Game time is TBA.