PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Fourth-seeded Plymouth State University scored five first-quarter goals Tuesday afternoon and fifth-seeded Western Connecticut State University never recovered, and the hosts went on to an 8-6 victory in the first round of the Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament at Panther Field.
PSU, which posted its fourth straight win to improve to 8-8 overall, advances to a semifinal contest Thursday at LEC regular-season champion and top-seeded Eastern Connecticut (3:30 p.m.) WestConn completes its season at 6-9 overall.
Senior Matt Fontenault (North Kingstown, R.I.) led the Panthers with three goals, while sophomore Adam Krinsky (Concord, N.H.) added a pair and freshman Luke Metraw (Chelmsford, Mass.), sophomore Mike Russell (Concord, N.H.) and senior John Padua (Hamden, Conn.) contributed one goal each.
Junior goalie Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) earned the victory in goal for the Panthers with a 16-save effort.
Sophomore Brian Gildae (Norwalk, Conn.) led the Colonials with two goals, while classmates Dennis Skarda (Danbury, Conn.) and Brendan Phillips (Mahopac, N.Y.) registered a goal and an assist each. Junior John Stashenko (Norwalk, Conn.) and sophomore Ron Pac (Glastonbury, Conn.) also scored for the visitors.
Fontenault scored the first two goals of the game for PSU, and after Phillips put WestConn on the board, the Panthers rattled off the next four goals, two from Krinsky and one each from Metraw and Fontenault, to take a 6-1 lead. Stashenko got one back for the Colonials to make it a 6-2 game at the half.
WestConn tallied three unanswered goals in the third period to cut the margin to one goal (6-5), but Russell, a Panther long-stick middle, rifled one in with 28 seconds left in the third quarter to stop the Western momentum and make it a 7-5 game entering the fourth.
Gildae's second goal with 11:56 on the clock again brought the Colonials to within one goal, but Padua notched an insurance goal for PSU with 3:35 remaining to seal the win.
This was the second close game the teams played this spring, as the Panthers edged WestConn in overtime, 10-9, during the regular season.
PSU will be facing Eastern Connecticut Thursday for the fourth time in the past two seasons. The Panthers lost to the Warriors in the regular season in both 2005 (9-3) and 2006 (14-10), but upset them in the semifinals of last year's ECAC New England Tournament (13-12 in overtime).
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