With two resounding victories, the women’s ice hockey team is riding a wave of momentum into the playoffs and will host Williams, the seventh seed, in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC tournament  tomorrow.

After last weekend, Bowdoin remains the No. 7 team in the nation with an overall record of 18-4-2. Amherst has dropped out of the top 10 in the latest poll.

Despite the box scores, Head Coach Marissa O’Neil pointed out that the games were very tight.

“The games were well-fought battles,” she said. “The score is not indicative of the game. We have a pretty high-powered offense and they were a good matchup for us.”

As has been happening all year, Bowdoin’s forwards cranked out goals early and often, forcing Amherst to match their up-tempo offensive gameplay.

According to captain Kayte Holtz ’13, the team’s ability to dictate the game’s pace was an important part of these two wins.

“Especially in the first game, we did a good job of controlling the tempo right from the start,” Holtz said. “After we scored, they came back hard but our defense and [goalie] Kayla [Lessard ‘13] did a great job of slowing them down and keeping them to only one goal the entire weekend.”

This series was also significant because the team swept Amherst for the first time in five years. 

Bowdoin has scored 57 goals and allowed only 18 this season in NESCAC plays, leading the conference in both offense and defense.

O’Neil was quick to point out that the team’s success reflects its commitment and desire to excel this season.

“Those are team accomplishments and we are really proud of that,” O’Neil said. “Those things obviously help our record, but it is not too often that you see that. Defensively we have done a great job. It is not a given that a team will have a great scoring offense and defense.”

One of the reasons why the hockey team has put up impressive statistics is its players’ versatility in playing at both ends of the ice. O’Neil said she searches for athletes with well-developed skills who understand the team’s offensive scheme.

“We always look for the best all-around athletes,” she added. “Versatility is hugely important: this year we moved Jay Greene ’13 to defense. Last year in the playoffs, we moved Emily Tang ’14 to be a forward because of injuries.” 

In the first match against Amherst, Bowdoin scored twice in the second and third period.

After an Amherst player was penalized for checking in the second, Bowdoin took advantage of the power play to break the deadlock.

Chelsea MacNeil ’15 scored the first goal off a rebound after Greene sent the goalie sprawling with a hard shot. 

O’Neil said she has been very impressed with MacNeil’s physical style of play on the ice as well as her development as a well-rounded hockey player.

“She is not the flashiest player out there but by far she is one of the most impactful,” she added. “The biggest thing is that she understands the game of hockey; she’s excellent on face-offs, which is something that is easily overlooked. By far her greatest strength is that she wins all 1-on-1 battles. It doesn’t matter where it is; if someone takes the puck off her stick, she will get it right back. She is tenacious, quick and grinds every single game.”

Holtz netted her own shot using a misdirection to weave it around the confused Amherst goalie. Rachel Kennedy ’16 scored early in the third period amidst a crowd of Bowdoin and Amherst players, and captain Stephanie Ludy ’13 set up a 1-on-1 situation for Kenzie Novak ‘13, who was able to convert the scoring opportunity for the team’s last goal.

In the second game, Bowdoin scored all of its goals in the first period, knocking Amherst back on its heels and then holding on for the win. After Ludy converted a power play early on, MacNeil, Arianna Bourque ’16 and Kennedy piled on to score another unanswered goal in a 3-on-2 scoring opportunity. Kennedy scored an insurance goal late in the game; Amherst had started a late rally and but could only come up with one goal.

That was Kennedy’s 14th goal of the season—the team high—and she is a serious candidate for NESCAC, and possibly D-III, Rookie of the Year.

O’Neil said she has been impressed with the development of the first-year players.

“Our first years are extremely competitive and have seamlessly transitioned into the college game,” O’Neil said. “Those two are by far some of the most competitive kids. They have pushed the upperclassmen to continue to play that way.”

“They are not only contributors on the ice by scoring, but their work ethic and positive attitudes help motivate everyone else,” said Holtz. “The freshmen are a great group of individuals all around.”

Lessard had two tremendous showings, posting one shutout and 53 combined saves over the two game series.

Going into the playoffs, O’Neil said she was relieved to be hosting the first round because the team won’t have to change their practice schedule, and they have lost only one game at home. 

Bowdoin will host a quarterfinal match against Williams tomorrow at 4 p.m. Tickets for the men’s and women’s doubleheader are available free for students with a Bowdoin ID and $3 for the public, and can be picked up on the second floor of the Buck Center.