KEENE, N.H. - The first ever Little East Conference Field Hockey Championship belongs to Keene State College.
KSC's Ally Huetz, named tournament MVP, had two goals to lead the Owls to a 3-1 victory over rival Plymouth State College in the LEC Championship game Sunday afternoon at Owl Stadium Complex. The top seed in the tournament, KSC advanced to the championship after a 2-0 win over Southern Maine while the Panthers, the third seed, shutout second seed UMass-Dartmouth, 4-0.
"Everyone on our team played really well in the tournament," said PSC head coach Abby Burbank. "I thought both teams played well Sunday. They beat us to the ball a few times, and they converted their chances."
All four goals in Sunday's title game came off of penalty corners. Keene State got on the board first when Huetz scored on a rebound four minutes into the game. Amy Wallace got the eventual game-winning goal, her 11th of the season, midway through the half off another corner opportunity.
Plymouth State, which finishes the season at 8-9 overall, fought back to get within one (2-1) on a second-half goal by freshman Katie Dodge (Sanbornton, NH). It was just the second goal scored against KSC on the Owl Stadium turf this season. But KSC would come back with an important insurance tally when Huetz was at the right place at the right time to knock in another penalty corner rebound.
"There were times in the midfield when they stepped up better than we did," said Burbank. "Keene State is fine tuned on its corners, and they did a nice job with them."
The Owls had plenty incentive entering the game. Still in the hunt for a NCAA Tournament bid, KSC was also looking to avenge an early season 3-1 loss to the Panthers. It is the second straight year PSC's season has ended with a post-season loss to Keene State.
Three Panthers were selected to the LEC All-Tournament Team - senior Sarah Mello (Oak Bluffs, MA), junior Jill Sutherland (Rockport, MA) and freshman Nicole Lauriat (Greenfield, MA). Sutherland scored three goals in PSC's 4-0 semi-final win over UMass Dartmouth, and added an assist in the title game. She finishes her junior year in 13th place on PSC's all-time scoring list with 54 points (22 goals, 10 assists.)
Plymouth State's victory over UMD in the semi-finals avenged a 1-0 overtime loss at the hands of the Corsairs last Saturday (October 24) that cost the Panthers the outright regular season championship and the top seed in the tournament. The Panthers scored twice in a span of 19 seconds midway through the first half. Sutherland made it 1-0 on a tip in, and Katie Dodge (Sanbornton, N.H.) gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Sutherland added two more goals in the second half for her hat trick. Junior Chris Perruzzi (South Portland, Maine) and freshman Leia Bridgham (Plymouth, N.H.) combined for PSC's third shutout this season.
LITTLE EAST CONFERENCE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Sarah Tuxbury - Back (UMass-Dartmouth) Alexandra Wildes - Forward (UMass-Dartmouth) Tara Giroux - Back/Midfield (Southern Maine) Alison Drury-Forward (Southern Maine) Jill Sutherland- Forward (Plymouth State) Nicole Lauriat - Midfield (Plymouth State) Sarah Mello-Back (Plymouth State) Carrie Trudeau-Midfield (Keene State) Amy Wallace-Back (Keene State) Erin Bonner-Goalie (Keene State) MVP Ally Huetz-Midfield (Keene State)
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