RUTLAND, Vt. – Castleton suffered a heartbreaking loss at Spartan Arena on Tuesday evening as top-ranked Plattsburgh St. scored a game-winning goal with less than a minute to play to record a 4-3 victory.
With the loss, the Spartans fall to 5-2-1 overall (3-1 ECAC East), while the defending national champions improved to 6-0-1. Taylor Steadman, Tori Pizzuto and Sam Pion tallied the goals for Castleton in the losing effort.
The Spartans were flat offensively in the opening period of play, as the Cardinals outshot the hosts 15-2. Castleton held the game scoreless until just over the midway point in the initial frame when Giovanna Senese notched her fourth goal of the year. A scrum took place in front of the net, and it seemed that the Spartans goalie, Jess Cameron, had covered the puck. However, Senese gathered control of it and fired home a shot at the 10:50 marker to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Plattsburgh St. doubled its advantage less than five minutes later to go two goals ahead. With 3:11 remaining in the first, Jordan Lipson delivered a pass across the net to Bridget Balisy, and the junior forward rifled a shot past Cameron to make it 2-0 heading into the middle frame.
In the second, it was the Spartans who struck first after Steadman cut the deficit back to one just 23 seconds into the period with her team-leading sixth goal of the year. Pion sent a shot on net that Cardinals goalie Ally Ross pushed aside, but Steadman was there to corral the rebound and slip the puck into the back of the net, making the score 2-1.
Trailing by just one goal, the offensive momentum changed in favor of Castleton, and at the 9:13 marker, Pion tied the game at 2-2. Anna Daniels wristed a shot from the point, and Ross made the save, but once again, the Spartans were able to capitalize on the rebound as Pion backhanded the puck just out of the goalies reach for the game-tying goal.
The contest didn't stay tied for long, however, as the Cardinals reclaimed their lead at 11:09 in the middle frame. Andrea Ziesmann shot the puck from the point, and Shannon Stewart redirected it past Cameron to make it 3-2 in favor of the visitors.
At 3:34 the third period, the hosts battled back, and on a power play possession, almost evened the scoreline, but Daniels' attempt ricocheted off the post.
Nevertheless, Castleton continued to push and found its second equalizer of the game at the 9:04 marker in the third when Pizzutto netted her second goal of the year. Hannah Rose passed the puck through the crease to Pizzuto, and the senior forward buried it home to even the contest at 3-3.
With 49 seconds remaining in the game, Melissa Ames grabbed a dramatic, late game-winner for Plattsburgh St. Morgan MacInnis delivered a pass across the front of the net to Ames, and the sophomore forward finished it into the top shelf, as the Cardinals pulled out a narrow 4-3 victory.
Overall, the Spartans were outshot by the opposition 45-17, but was able to kill of all four of its penalties, including a 5-on-3 advantage late in the third period.
Cameron, who is now 3-1 on the year, suffered the loss for Castleton after stopping 41 shots in just over 59 minutes between the pipes. Ross, meanwhile, produced 14 saves to earn her fifth win of the season.
The Spartans head on the road this weekend with a pair of ECAC East contests at Manhattanville on Friday and Slave Regina on Saturday.