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Panthers nip NEC in regional battle

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Regional field hockey rivals New England College and Plymouth State College went head to head in a non-conference battle Tuesday, and the host Panthers pulled out a 2-1 decision at blustery Arold Field.

The win extends PSC's winning streak to 10 games and improves the Panthers to 13-1 overall, while NEC drops to 14-2 overall. Plymouth State came into the game ranked #1 in the NCAA New England West Regional, while NEC is ranked #2 in the NCAA New England East Region. The Pilgrims are also ranked #17 in the field hockey coaches' national Division III poll.

The Panthers got both their goals in the first half. Sophomore Amanda Gutowski (Conway, N.H.) deflected a pass from senior Katie Dodge (Sanbornton, N.H.) for her eighth goal of the season just seven minutes into the contest, and freshman Lilly Silva (Lowell, Mass.) finished off a play from senior teammate Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.) with 10 minutes to play in the half. NEC had a 5-3 edge in shots in the first half, but trailed by two goals.

The second half was the reverse, as PSC had a 13-5 advantage in shots on goal but the Pilgrims scored the only goal. Senior Laura Buffa (Wolfeboro, N.H.) took a pass in the crease from classmate Erica Neily (Canaan, N.H.) in the first five minutes of the half and rifled a shot into the goal to cut the deficit to one, but PSC held off the visitors the rest of the way. It was only the seventh goal allowed by PSC this year.

Junior goalkeeper Ellen Ward (Thorndike, Maine) was strong in the Panther net, making four saves, while NEC senior Krista Milroy (West Springfield, Mass.) turned away 11 shots, 10 in the second half.

The Panthers play a make-up Little East Conference game Wednesday (Oct. 30) at Fitchburg State (3:00 p.m.), then return home for the regular season finale Saturday against Framingham State (2:00 p.m.). NEC awaits play in the Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament.