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Messiah knocks PSC from NCAAs

GRANTHAM, Pa. - Plymouth State College's participation in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament ended Friday in the second round against defending national runner-up Messiah College, 2-1.

Messiah, making its 16th NCAA appearance in the last 18 years, advances to the national quarterfinals against Williams, who defeated Wittenberg 3-0 in Friday's second game. Plymouth State, playing in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and sixth time in school history, completes a successful campaign at 17-2.

Messiah outshot the Panthers by a 37-9 count, and had an 18-3 advantage in penalty corners, but the score was tied 1-1 with five minutes remaining in the game. Messiah's Brooke Good (Ephrata, Pa.) snapped the tie with 4:57 to play, letting loose with a goal on a drive from the left side of the circle.

"Our kids played great," said PSC head coach Bonnie Lord. "We were tied with five minutes to go, and they got a shot off that squeaked past a couple of our players. Everyone is going to know who Plymouth State is after this one."

The host Falcons took a 1-0 lead just 2:20 into the game when Afton Fisher (Gap, Pa.) found Jenna Schwind on the right post, who knocked the ball in for the score. The Panthers responded six minutes later when sophomore Amanda Gutowski (Conway, N.H.) took a long pass in transition and fed senior Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.), who notched her team-leading 14th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

Messiah was awarded a penalty stroke with 9:12 remaining in the first half, but PSC junior goalkeeper Ellen Ward (Thorndike, Maine) made a fantastic stick save to her right to keep the score even at the half. Ward was terrific all afternoon, coming up big on several occasions and matching her career high with 16 saves.

The Falcons continued to pressure the Panther defense in the second half, but couldn't break through. PSC had two very good chances of its own, but Messiah goalie Erica Nelson (Princess Anne, Md.) rose to the occasion. Messiah missed a second golden chance to take the lead with 25 minutes remaining, but a second penalty stroke of the day went wide right.

Messiah's pressure finally paid off after a penalty corner with five minutes remaining. Plymouth State broke up the initial attempt, but the clear came to junior Jenna Haverstick, who passed to Good for the eventual game-winner.

Plymouth State earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament after winning its third consecutive Little East Conference championship last week.

(Courtesy Messiah Sports Information)