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Panthers capture second straight LEC crown

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine) scored the only goal of the game and received the Most Valuable Player award Saturday at Arold Field as Plymouth State College defeated Worcester State College 1-0 to capture its second consecutive Little East Conference Field Hockey Championship.

The top-seeded Panthers registered their 11th victory in a row and sixth consecutive shutout, improving to 14-4 overall. PSC earned its second straight automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship tournament, and the school's fifth overall. The sixth-seeded Lancers, who advanced to the championship game with upset victories over third-seeded Keene State and second-seeded Southern Maine, drop to 15-7 overall.

Fournier's goal, her team-leading 13th of the season, was scored nine minutes into the second half, assisted by junior Melanie McAvey (Grafton, Mass.). McAvey had appeared to score the first goal of the game early in the first half but the goal was waved off by the official. Fournier, who tallied two goals in PSC's semifinal win over Eastern Connecticut, has now scored at least one goal in six straight games.

Plymouth State finished with a 24-2 advantage in shots on goal. WSC got solid play from sophomore keeper Allisha Bates (Palmer, Mass.), who finished with 11 saves. Panther sophomore keeper Ellen Ward (Thorndike, Maine) needed to make just one save to post her sixth shutout of the season. She also tied the school record for career shutouts with 15, held by Shelley Hoar (1995-96).

"Worcester played a great game," said PSC coach Bonnie Lord. "After we won 5-0 yesterday, it was important for us to maintain our focus today. Our defense was stellar; they might not have scored the goals, but we would not have won today without them. Offense wins games, and defense wins championships, and that certainly applies to us."

The NCAA will announce the tournament parings Sunday night. PSC hosted New England College in the NCAA first round last year, but lost 1-0.