Morin's game-winner sends Panthers to title match
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Jackie Morin fired home her own rebound seven minutes into the first overtime Friday afternoon at Arold Field to lift second-seeded Plymouth State University to an exciting 2-1 victory over third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in a semifinal contest of the Little East Conference Field Hockey Tournament.
Morin was sent in on a breakaway in the overtime session of a feed by sophomore Aisha Rai Thompson. UMD sophomore goalie Lauren O'Brien broke up Morin's first attempt, but Morin collected the rebound and fired home the game-winner at 7:40 of the OT period. It was Morin's team-leading 17th goal of the season and her sixth game-winner, which is tied for the LEC lead.
The Panthers (17-2) advance to the LEC Championship game this Sunday at top-seeded and regular season champion Keene State College (18-4). The Owls advanced Friday with a 2-1 triumph over fifth-seeded Westfield State University in the other LEC semifinal. PSU will make its first appearance in the title game since 2008, when the Panthers were defeated by top-seeded Keene State, 4-0.
The Corsairs, which had lost to Plymouth State in the regular-season finale last Saturday, 4-3, complete their season with a 10-10 overall record. UMD was kept in the game by an outstanding performance in goal by O'Brien, who finished with 10 saves.
The tightly-contested battle was close the entire way, with defenses on both teams tightening and preventing very many scoring opportunities. PSU carried the play for the first 20 minutes before UMD put on a surge over the final 15 minutes of the half. The visitors broke into the scoring column with 53 seconds on the clock when junior Erica Allan took the ball just inside the arc and fired a low shot that got past the keeper for a 1-0 Corsair lead. It was Allan's 10th goal of the season.
The Panthers, which had a 6-1 advantage in shots in the first half but trailed by a goal, wasted little time after the intermission scoring the equalizer. Thompson fired a ball from outside the top of the circle, and senior Erin Norris, who was planted in front of the UMD goal, deflected the ball through the keeper to deadlock the score at 1-1.
The defenses tightened again and prevented few scoring opportunities for the remainder of regulation play. UMD had the best chances with eight minutes remaining but Thompson made a nice play for PSU to break up a Corsair breakaway by Allan, and moments later PSU junior goalie Hilary Lemelin made a terrific save on junior Eleanor Taylor.
Each team had one shot in the extra session before Morin won it for the home team. PSU finished with a 13-6 advantage in shots for the game, and had a 12-3 margin in penalty corners.
Sunday's title game will be a rematch of the regular season game at Keene on Sept. 28, won by the host Owls, 3-0. It was PSU's only Little East loss this season, while the Owls went undefeated in conference play.
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