SCHENECTADY — Union College women’s hockey freshman forward Riley Walsh is quickly earning the reputation of being Miss Overtime.
For the third time in the last four games, Walsh came through in the extra period. She put in the rebound of a Maren Friday shot with 1:58 left in sudden-death overtime to give the Dutchwomen a 2-1 ECAC Hockey victory over Capital Region-rival RPI on Tuesday at Messa Rink.
The victory extended a pair of streaks for the Dutchwomen (2-2-1 ECACH, 5.5 points; 7-5-1 overall). It was their fourth straight win and their fifth consecutive without a loss. Both are firsts in the program’s Division I history, which started in 2003-04. Union did have a four-game winning streak from Jan. 31-Feb. 9, 2003, its last year in Division III.
Walsh’s overtime heroics began Nov. 5, when she scored 58 seconds into the extra period to beat Dartmouth 5-4. Last Friday, she scored with 58.9 seconds remaining to beat RIT 3-2.
Walsh, who scored Union’s first goal with 4:09 left in the first period to tie the score 1-1, was at a loss for words as to why she is so clutch.
“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Walsh said. “I just keep being given the opportunity and just finishing on it. It’s a 3 on 3 overtime, kind of when my dad always had the pond outside and I just played like 1 on 1s and 3 on 3s with my brothers and his friends. I think it comes from that, too, just like being aware.”
Walsh, who leads the Dutchwomen with eight goals, was on the right side of the net when she fired Friday’s rebound past goalie Amanda Rampado.
“I knew a rebound was going to pop out, so I kind of stayed back,” Walsh said.
Union assistant coach Chris Ardito, who is running the team while head coach Josh Sciba is with the Team USA women’s hockey team for its rivalry series against Canada, is impressed with how Walsh continues to come up big.
“It’s huge,” Ardito said. “I’m really happy that she’s having a great breakout year. I’m really proud of the work she’s doing. She’s putting it in off the ice, on the ice. She’s come a long way. I’ve known her for several years, and it’s just great to see her performing and getting the reward for it.”
Asked why Walsh is so clutch, Ardito said, “I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know if she has a rabbit’s foot in her stuff or whatever. I have no clue, but it’s great.”
Union senior forward and team captain Emily King almost won it late in regulation on a shorthanded breakaway. Rampado stopped the shot, and King got penalized right after that for embellishment on a body check by Nina Christof, who was also penalized.
“I think I got a lucky pokecheck, and then just beat [the RPI player] with my speed,” King said. “I didn’t score, and that’s a bit frustrating, but it happens. I don’t agree with everything that happens, but it’s out of my control. The refs are the ones in charge, and I respect their job.”
Union was playing its third game in five days, and final exams for the first trimester start Thursday. That combination showed as the Dutchwomen didn’t play with a crispness that they had been displaying during their unbeaten streak. It took them nearly 16 minutes to get their first shot on goal of the game, and King’s breakaway was their only shot on goal of the third period.
The Dutchwomen gave up six power plays to the Engineers (0-4-1, 2.5 points; 2-10-1), killing five of them, including a five-minute major to Meredith Killian that was called late in the second period and carried over into the third.
“RPI plays a very different brand of hockey than we’ve been playing, and we talked about it,” Ardito said. “I think we got a little bit away from the game plan. There were moments where we got into it, and we generated because of it. I think the shift right before our first goal was a good example of that. And then we got away from it at other times, too. I think we battled hard, but their game plan is what kind of kept us hemmed in, which was good for them for executing what they had to do.”
Once again, this Dutchwomen squad came through.
“Even though we were tired,” said Union sophomore goalie Sophie Matsoukas, who was named ECACH Goalie of the Week earlier in the day, “we were still grinding and working hard and getting what we needed to get done.”
- RPI 1 0 0 0 — 1
- Union 1 0 0 1 — 2
- First Period — 1, RPI, S. Beaudoin 2 (Erbenova, Christof), 6:52 (pp). 2, Union, Walsh 7 (C. Beaudoin), 15:51. Penalties — Merlo, Uni (body checking), 6:24; Bukvic, RPI (boarding), 9:18; Suitor, Uni (tripping), 19:31.
- Second Period — None. Penalties — Christof, RPI (slashing), 1:22; Merlo, Uni (cross-checking), 1:22; Blitz, RPI (interference), 6:04; Friday, Uni (hooking), 10:00; Toye, RPI (hooking), 16:14; Killian, Uni, major (hitting from behind), 19:40.
- Third Period — None. Penalties — Killian, Uni (tripping), 11:19; Merlo, Uni (cross-checking), 19:09; Christof, RPI (body checking), 19:49; King, Uni (embellishment), 19:49.
- Overtime — 3, Union, Walsh 8 (Friday, Greco), 3:02. Penalties — None.
- Shots on Goal — RPI 8-11-3-1 — 23. Union 4-8-1-4 — 17.
- Power-play opportunities — RPI 1 of 6; Union 0 of 3.
- Goalies — RPI, Rampado 2-10-1 (17 shots-15 saves). Union, Matsouaks 7-5-1 (19-18).
- A — 215. T — 2:21.
- Referees — Daniel Gosselin, Anthony Kenney. Linesmen — Haylee Mello, Matthew Potrzeba.