PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Pat O’Malley (South Windsor, Conn.) scored three second-half goals Tuesday afternoon as fourth-seeded Plymouth State University advanced past fifth-seeded University of Southern Maine, 7-5, in the first round of the Little East Conference Men’s Lacrosse Tournament at Panther Field.
The Panthers, 6-6 overall, move on to Thursday’s LEC semifinal game in Willimantic, Conn., against top-seeded and three-time defending champion Eastern Connecticut State University (3:30 p.m.). USM completes its season at 5-8.
O’Malley’s first goal broke a 3-3 tie midway through the third period, as the upset-minded Huskies had pulled even at halftime. It was still a one-goal game (5-4) in the fourth quarter when O’Malley notched consecutive goals with 10:41 and 5:32 on the clock, and PSU held off the Huskies the rest of the way. Plymouth State had defeated USM, 11-2, back on Apr. 6 in Gorham, Maine.
PSU junior Steve Skinner (Hingham, Mass.) contributed to the win with two goals and two assists. He scored two of PSU’s three goals in the first half, and set up two of O’Malley’s second-half strikes. Senior Eric Gobiel (Chelmsford, Mass.) and sophomore Bobby Dabrieo (Woburn, Mass.) also chipped in with a goal and an assist each.
Junior Matt Butler (Barnstable, Mass.) led the Husky effort with two goals and two assists. Juniors Ben Sylvia (Bristol, Maine) and Mark St. John (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and sophomore Jeff Donovan (Walpole, Mass.) also collected goals for USM, and junior John Connor (Bridport, Vt.) was outstanding defensively with 12 ground balls.
Freshman goalie Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) earned the victory in the Panther net with nine saves, while USM junior netminder Mark Morissette (Wales, Maine) finished with 12 saves. PSU outshot USM, 36-31.
The winners of Thursday’s semifinal games advance to the LEC Championship game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the site of the highest remaining seed. The LEC Tournament champion receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
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