MANSFIELD, Conn. - Junior Ashley Gutowski (Conway, NH) and senior Rachel Kirschner (Burlington, Conn.) scored on their team's first two shots of the game in a span of three minutes and it was enough for the Plymouth State University field hockey team to post a 2-0 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon.
In a battle of teams looking to return to the conference playoffs, Plymouth State (4-4, 4-1) won its third in a row and kept pace in the early race for the regular-season title with Salem State and Keene State, each of whom won to remain a game behind unbeaten front-runner Keene State College. The loss is the fifth in a row for Eastern (2-8, 1-4) this year and 12th without a win against Plymouth State in the series.
Just returning after missing several games with an injury, Gutowski scored her first goal of the year on a pass from sophomore Morgan Lemmon (Gilford, N.H.) following a penalty corner with just under 10 minutes gone to give Plymouth a 1-0 lead. Kirschner made it 2-0 less than three minutes later when she carried the ball down the middle of the Eastern defense and fired a shot inside the right post. Kirschner had never scored before this week, and has now scored in two straight games.
Shut out for the first time over its last six matches, Eastern managed only two shots in the second half and was not awarded a penalty corner (Plymouth had eight in the half). The shots came in succession 12 minutes into the second half and came off the sticks of freshman Rene Breton (Stafford, Conn.) and junior Drew Gomes (Thomaston, Conn.). Breton's shot was stuffed by Plymouth senior goalie Leah Curtin (Londonderry, N.H.) and constituted her only save of the half, the Gomes' follow-up rolled wide.
The Warriors' best chance came 15 minutes into the match, but Plymouth freshman Betsy Renauld (Penacook, N.H.) cleared a shot by Eastern freshman Paige Booth (Hollis, N.H.) off the goal line.
Eastern winds up a string of five straight home matches -- looking for its first win in that stretch - Tuesday against Fitchburg State College in a conference match at 4:30 p.m.
PSU takes its three-game winning streak to rival Keene State for a key LEC contest (6:00 p.m.)
(Courtesy of Eastern Conn. Sports Information)
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