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March 16, 2014

Vakos sends Cardinals to final four

PLATTSBURGH — The No. 1 Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team trailed for 17 minutes and 18 seconds in its NCAA first-round game Saturday.

But Ali Vakos changed that in a hurry.

Vakos scored on four occasions, helping the Cardinals (26-1-1) to a 4-1 defeat of No. 10 Williams College at the Stafford Ice Arena.

With the victory, Plattsburgh advances to the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship semifinals, which will be held at Plattsburgh State. The Cardinals will meet No. 6 St. Thomas (Minn.), a 5-0 winner over No. 5 Wisconsin-Stevens Point Friday.

“In terms of being resilient, I think we’ve certainly played that way all season,” Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle said. “We haven’t been down a lot, but we have been down a few times. There was no panic on the bench. I certainly thought we were a little bit rattled in that first period, but we finished strong.”

Gabrielle Vukasin gave the Ephs (15-10-3) a 1-0 lead, scooping up a redirected puck into the back of the net at 1:15.

“That’s definitely what we’ve been striving for is a good, quick start,” Williams coach Meghan Gillis said. “We knew against a talented squad like Plattsburgh that would be necessary. I was really proud of the way we started.”

Vakos tied the game at 1-all with 1:27 remaining in the opening period. After a barrage of shots, the senior from Hamden, Conn., banged in a rebound chance near the far-side post.

Vakos tallied back-to-back goals in the second period to secure her natural hat trick before recording her fourth of the contest at 0:31 of the third period.

“I have to give a lot of the credit to my linemates,” Vakos said. “Chelsea (VanGlahn) and (Giovanna Senese), they both gave me really good opportunities to score. Two of my goals were empty nets because of them.

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