Manhattanville wins ECAC East title
Sophomore Cote stops 42 as Valiants win eighth title in 11 years
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Sophomore Emy Cote made 42 saves to earn Most Valuable Player honors as the No. 10 Manhattanville women's hockey team captured its eighth ECAC East Conference Tournament championship with a 4-2 victory against No. 3 Norwich at Kreitzberg Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Heading into the contest, the Valiants owned a 7-0 record in ECAC East championship games, but six of those titles had come at home at Playland Ice Casino. This time, the Valiants have to go on the road to win their eighth conference championship in 11 seasons and the first under third-year head coach Eric Lang.
With the victory, Manhattanville (19-7-2, 13-4-1 ECAC East) receives the ECAC East Conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time and will be notified on Monday morning who their opponent will be next weekend via the NCAA Selection Show on NCAA.com. Norwich (23-4-1, 17-0-1 ECAC East) will await a potential at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament tomorrow morning.
Junior Jackie Solomito scored the first pair of goals for the Valiants to get the team going, followed by the game-winning goal by senior Holly Nonis and then an empty-net tally by sophomore Lauren Nutkevitch to clinch the victory. The Cadets had possession in the Valiant end for a majority of the contest and forced Cote to make some phenomenal saves to keep her team in the game.
Norwich finished the contest with a 44-12 edge in shots, with Cadets' netminder Cindy Fortin making eight saves. However, Cote set a Manhattanville postseason record with her career-high 42 stops to earn the victory, tying Karine Turmel '09 for third on the school's single-game saves list in the process.
Neither team scored in the opening frame, but the Valiants wasted no time in the second period to take a 1-0 lead, as Solomito went around two Norwich defenders and put back her own rebound behind Fortin just 35 seconds in. Senior Erica Garcia (Highland, Calif./Redlands East Valley) helped the play transform after a shot by the Cadets off the opening faceoff, finding Solomito in the neutral zone.
The Cadets tied the game with less then a minute remaining in the middle frame, as Sophie Leclerc found Melissa Rundlett in the low slot with 24 seconds remaining. The Cadets held a 24-7 advantage in shots after two periods, as Cote made some key saves in the period on Norwich leading scorers Julie Fortier and Leclerc.
The final period saw the Valiants once again score in the opening minute, as Solomito once again went around the Norwich defense and put away her own rebound off a pass from sophomore Katie Little to give the Valiants a 2-1 edge just 10 seconds into the third.
The Cadets had an opportunity to tie the contest at the 4:07 mark as freshman Mallory Watts was nabbed for falling on the puck in the crease, allowing the Cadets a penalty shot. Leclerc took the shot for the Cadets, but failed on a forehand deke that Cote steered aside.
Norwich eventually tied the contest for the second time at the 8:11 mark, as the defensive paring of Sarianne Lynn and Brittany Sharman set up Rundlett in the low slot to bang away a loose puck off her initial shot. But the Valiants broke the tie just 48 seconds later off a beautifully crisp tape-to-tape pass from senior Jess Scioli (North Reading, Mass./North Reading) to a streaking Nonis at the goalmouth. Garcia also picked up an assist on the goal.
The Valiants capped off the victory with an empty net tally by Nutkevitch after the Valiants cleared the defensive zone with four seconds remaining. In the final minute of the contest, the Cadets took five shots toward goal, with two saves by Cote, two blocks by defenders and one wide.
Along with Cote's MVP performance, Solomito and Nonis were named to the ECAC East All-Tournament team from Manhattanville following their performances in the championship game.