Panthers' bid for second straight title falls short
HOLDERNESS, N.H. – An outstanding defense led second-seeded University of New England to a 2-1 upset victory over top-seeded Plymouth State University Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Field Hockey Championship at The Holderness School's Low Field.
The Nor'easters limited the high-powered PSU offense, which was averaging 4.5 goals and 22 shots per game on the season, to just one goal and 12 shots. Freshman goalie Holly Smith (Peabody, Mass.) made eight saves to post the win and earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
UNE captures its second title in program history, following the 2009 championship it won by defeating PSU in overtime in Biddeford, Maine. Plymouth State fell short in its bid for a second straight ECAC title; the Panthers upset top-seeded Bridgewater State University to claim the 2012 crown.
All three goals in the game were scored in the first half. Junior Erin Bibber (Charlton, Mass.) opened the scoring one second shy of the 17-minute mark when she knocked the ball past PSU senior goalie Hilary Lemelin (Milan, N.H.) after Lemelin had made a stop of Bibber's first attempt.
Junior Kayla Lambert (Bedford, N.H./Bishop Guertin) extended the UNE lead four minutes later, collecting a loose ball that was blocked by the PSU defense and pounding it past Lemelin for a 2-0 score with 13 minutes to play in the half.
PSU cut the margin in half with 4:29 to play in the half. Freshman Kaitlyn Wilder (Framingham, Mass.) blasted a shot on goal that was saved by Smith, but senior Lauren Carroll (Rollinsford, N.H.) pounced on the rebound and fired it into bottom left side of the goal.
After being out-shot by a 12-7 count in the first half, PSU increased the pressure on the UNE side of the field in the second half. The Panthers had a 5-1 shot advantage, and each team took two penalty corners, but the defenses and goaltenders held their grounds. Lemelin finished with five saves in the PSU goal.
The championship game was moved to the turf at The Holderness School after rain arrived in Plymouth overnight and made the conditions unplayable at Arold Field.
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