SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Junior Jon Gagnon (New Bedford, Mass.) scored six goals, including the last two of regulation and the overtime game-winner, as sixth-seeded Plymouth State University pulled out a dramatic 13-12 come-from-behind overtime victory over second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Men’s Lacrosse Tournament at Western New England College’s Golden Bear Stadium.
PSU, which upset third-seeded Lasell in the first round, trailed Eastern Conn., 12-6, with less than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter before staging a furious rally. Gagnon scored three times in the rally, while classmate Bobby Dabrieo (Woburn, Mass.) added two goals and an assist and freshman Mike Russell (Concord, N.H.) had a goal and two assists. Gagnon sent the game into overtime with the tying goal with just 0:17 on the clock, with Russell assisting on the play, and Gagnon won it with an unassisted goal, an underhanded shot into the top corner, 2:58 into sudden-victory overtime.
The Panthers, 9-7, snapped an 11-game losing streak to Eastern Conn., and advance to the ECAC New England Tournament championship game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. PSU will face top-seeded and defending champion WNEC, which eliminated UMass Boston in Saturday’s first semifinal, 12-7.
Eastern Conn., which defeated PSU 9-3 earlier this season, took a 5-0 lead after one quarter. The Panthers got on the board with three goals in the second quarter, but trailed 7-3 at halftime. Plymouth State pulled to within a goal in the third quarter after key consecutive goals by Gagnon and senior Pat O’Malley (South Windsor, Conn.), but ECSU answered with five unanswered goals to take a seemingly insurmountable lead (12-6) early in the fourth quarter.
Gagnon finished with six goals for PSU, while Dabrieo ended up with two goals and three assists. O’Malley and freshman Adam Krinsky (Concord, N.H.) contributed two goals apiece, and Russell had a goal and two assists. Freshman Jeff Flandina (West Islip, N.Y.) led the Warriors with four goals, while classmate Pete Hamilton (Rutland, Vt.) scored three times, sophomore Dave Carpenter (Redding, Conn.) added a pair, and senior Brian Hebron (Hicksville, N.Y.), sophomore Kyle MacDonald (Hamden, Conn.) and junior Chris Snedeker (Southington, Conn.) scored once each.
PSU sophomore Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) turned in another outstanding effort in goal with 21 saves, including eight in the third quarter and one in overtime. Junior Will Holland (Kent, Conn.) made 11 saves for the Warriors.
The Panthers won for the seventh time in their last eight games. The nine wins for PSU this spring represents the most victories in a season since the 2000 team finished 10-6. The wins over Lasell and ECSU are also Plymouth State’s first victories in four career ECAC post-season appearances.
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