PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Top-seeded Plymouth State University staged a furious second-half rally Friday afternoon, overcoming a 12-4 deficit to pull out a 15-12 victory over fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University in the first semifinal of the Little East Conference Women’s Lacrosse Tournament at Arold Field.
The Panthers advance to the LEC Championship game for the third straight season, where they will face second-seeded Keene State College on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Arold Field. The Owls advanced to the title game with a 15-11 victory over third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in Friday’s second semifinal at Arold Field.
PSU improved to 15-0 on the season and extended its overall winning streak to 24 games, dating back to last season. The two-time defending LEC champions are 22-0 against LEC opponents since the conference started women’s lacrosse in 2002. PSU also won New England Women’s Lacrosse Alliance titles in 2000 and 2001.
Eastern Conn., which was defeated by Plymouth State in the last two LEC Championship games, dropped to 8-7 on the season.
Seniors Katie Sheridan (West Sayville, N.Y.), Michelle Norton (Sandwich, Mass.) and Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.) scored three goals apiece to lead the Panthers. Sophomore Nicole Evans (Scituate, Mass.) contributed two goals and two assists, and freshmen Kelsey MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) and Meg Cupoli (Southboro, Mass.) chipped in with two goals apiece.
Junior Mo Deegan (Westport, Conn.) led the Warrior contingent with a game-high six points on three goals and three assists. Sophomore Alana Florian (Southington, Conn.) also scored three goals, senior Lauren Davern (Jackson Heights, N.Y.) and sophomore Kara Mastroianni (Newington, Conn.) added two goals each, and junior Ashley Able (Mystic, Conn.) and freshman Jenna Faiola (Billerica, Mass.) chipped in with one goal apiece.
Eastern Conn. gave the Panthers all they could handle on Friday. The upset-minded Warriors rattled off six unanswered goals in the first half to take a 7-1 lead with 13:24 left before settling for a 10-4 halftime advantage. Eastern also scored the first two goals after intermission to take a 12-4 advantage with 25 minutes to play.
The defending champs would not go down easily, though, and ECSU would not score again. PSU scored four goals in a two-minute span to make it 12-8 with 18 minutes remaining, and after a goal at 14:21, the Panthers notched four more in another two-minute span to take their first lead of the day with 7:26 on the clock. PSU added insurance goals with 5:47 and 3:01 remaining to secure the win.
Senior goalie Erika Blozie (South Windsor, Conn.) was superb in the Warriors net, finishing with 21 saves, including 13 of the 17 shots she faced in the first half. PSU senior Carmen Villanueva (East Schodack, N.Y.) made 10 saves in her 47:33 in the Panther net.
Sheridan continued her assault on the all-time Division III scoring list. She moved into a tie for sixth on the career goals list with 262, and is now 10th in the career points department with 348.
Saturday’s LEC title game is a rematch of the Apr. 15th match-up, when PSU defeated KSC 15-3 in Plymouth. The Little East Tournament champion receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
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