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Panthers advance to Little East title game

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Sophomore Amanda Gutowski (Conway, N.H.) knocked home the game-winning goal with 7:16 remaining in the first overtime Friday afternoon, giving two-time defending champion Plymouth State College a 1-0 victory over Worcester State College in the semifinals of the Little East Conference Field Hockey Tournament at PSC's Arold Field.

The win propels the top-seeded Panthers into the LEC Championship game for the third straight year. PSC will meet third-seeded University of Southern Maine Saturday at 12 noon at Arold Field, after the Huskies advanced to the title game with a 1-0 upset victory over second-seeded Keene State College in Friday's second semifinal.

Plymouth State also extended its winning streak this season to 13 games, improving to 16-1 overall. PSC has also won 34 of 35 LEC regular season and tournament games since 2000. Fourth-seeded Worcester State drops to 12-8.

The Panthers outshot the Lancers 31-10 during 70 minutes of regulation, including 18-4 in the first half, but neither team was able to put the ball into the net. With the teams playing seven-on-seven in overtime, PSC created a fast break opportunity, and Gutowski finished off the play for her ninth goal of the season to send PSC into the championship game.

PSC junior goalkeeper Ellen Ward (Thorndike, Maine) made four saves for PSC, earning her seventh shutout of the season. WSC junior Alisha Bates (Palmer, Mass.) was solid in the Lancers' goal, making 13 saves.

Saturday's 12 noon championship game between PSC and USM is a rematch of the Oct. 2 contest, when the Panthers pulled out a 1-0 decision in Gorham, Maine.

The LEC Champion receives an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.