KEENE, N.H. -- Third-seeded University of Southern Maine scored twice in the opening 10 minutes Friday afternoon and made the lead stand up for a 2-1 victory over second-seeded and three-time defending champion Plymouth State University in the second semifinal game of the 2003 Little East Conference Field Hockey Championship tournament at Keene State College.
The win was the ninth straight for the Huskies who improved to 16-5 overall, and advances them into Saturday's championship game against top-seeded Keene State. It also snapped a six-game losing streak at the hands of the Panthers. The Owls punched their ticket into the championship game with a 6-0 win over fourth-seeded Bridgewater State College in the earlier semifinal game.
Plymouth State, which had won 10 of 11 games since the first of October, drops to 12-6. The Panthers, which competed in the NCAA Tournament in the past three years, are hoping for their fourth consecutive post-season berth when the ECAC New England Tournament bids are announced on Monday. A berth in the ECAC would give the Panthers their ninth post-season bid in the last 11 years.
Senior Renee Heath (Brunswick, Maine) put the Huskies on top at 4:54 when she received a pass from senior Deedra Boudreau (Camden, Maine) on a penalty corner, brought the ball back into the circle and fired a blast by PSU senior goalie Kerry Brady (Jefferson, N.H.) for her ninth goal of the season.
Less than five minutes later, Heath controlled a pass from another penalty corner and passed across to freshman Kerry Leonard (Stamford, Conn.) who chipped a high shot by Brady to make it 2-0. The goal was Leonard's sixth of the season.
Plymouth State, which handed the Huskies a 3-2 loss back in October, cut the deficit in half at the 19:01 mark as sophomore Lilly Silva (Lowell, Mass.) took a pass from junior Annie Metz (North Chelmsford, Mass.) and beat USM senior goalie Jessie Superchi (Campton, N.H.) for her team-leading 12th goal of the season.
Superchi and Brady would slam the door on any scoring over the final 51 minutes. Superchi was credited with six saves. Brady registered eight saves. Southern Maine had a 10-7 edge in shots and a 10-5 advantage in penalty corners.
This is the second straight year that Southern Maine has reached the championship game. Keene State reached the title game for the first time since the 2000 championship tournament. The winner of Saturday's championship game will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championship tournament.
(Courtesy of Southern Maine Sports Information)
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