PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Freshman Courtney McLaughlin (Bellingham, Mass.) scored her first goal of the season with 15:36 remaining in the second half Tuesday afternoon at Arold Field to lift third-seeded Plymouth State University to a 2-1 victory over sixth-seeded Salem State College in the first round of the Little East Conference Field Hockey Tournament.
The Panthers, who came from behind to avenge an overtime loss to the Vikings earlier this season, advances to an LEC semifinal contest Thursday afternoon at second-seeded University of Southern Maine (2:30 p.m.) The Huskies earned a ticket to the semifinals with a 3-1 home victory over Westfield State on Tuesday.
The winning goal came on a Panther penalty corner. Sophomore Sarah Smith (Lexington, Mass.) served the ball into play from the right side, and it was stopped by sophomore Cortney Colligan (Brookfield, N.H.). Colligan then fired the ball to the left hand side of the net, where McLaughlin redirected the ball into the goal for the eventual game winner.
Salem State had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when sophomore Marielle McCarthy (Mattapoisett, Mass.) deflected a ball through the middle of the circle and past a screened Panther goalkeeper. Junior Kara Beauregard (Leominster, Mass.) and freshman Lauren Philbrick (Marlborough, Mass.) both were credited with assists on the play.
The Panthers evened the score with less than three minutes left in the first half. A shot by junior Ashley Gutowski (Conway, N.H.) got past the goalie but was stopped by Vikings freshman defender Megan Closson (Boothbay Harbor, Maine) on the goal line. PSU sophomore Katie Chase (Goffstown, N.H.) was there to knock in the rebound and make it a 1-1 game at the break.
PSU finished with a 16-11 advantage in shots, and an 11-7 margin in penalty corners. PSU senior netminder Katie Randall (Portsmouth, N.H.) made five saves to earn the victory, while SSC freshman goalie Jess McKenna (Rowley, Mass.) finished with nine saves.
Thursday's semifinal contest is a rematch of the regular season contest from Oct. 17 in Plymouth, when the Panthers defeated the Huskies, 3-1.
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