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PSU Men’s Lax downs UMB in Little East Quarterfinal

Panthers match season-high 17 goals; face Keene in semis

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Chris Annunciata (Waltham, Mass.), sophomore Nick Morello (North Billerica, Mass.) and senior Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) combined to score 12 goals Tuesday afternoon as fourth-seeded Plymouth State University defeated fifth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston, 17-11, in the first round of the Little East Conference men's lacrosse tournament at Panther Field.

            The upset-minded Beacons matched PSU goal for goal in the first quarter before the home team outscored the visitors 5-2 in the second frame and 8-2 in the third to push the lead to 16-7, and then held off a late rally by the Beacons in the final session.

            The Panthers, 9-4, advance to an LEC semifinal game Friday at 5:00 p.m. at top-seeded Keene State College.  UMB, which was making its first playoff appearance since 2008, winds up its season at 6-12.

            Annunciata got the Panthers off to a strong start, scoring the first goal just six seconds after the opening whistle, before adding two scores in the second and third quarters to finish with a game-high five goals. Morello tallied four goals in the third quarter, including three in a row in a 47-second span that put PSU ahead15-7.  Long added three goals for the Panthers and senior Shawn McEvoy (Spring, Texas) contributed a goal and a team-high three assists.

            Junior Thomas Petitti (Quincy, Mass.) and sophomore Ryan McGoff (Charlestown, Mass.) led the visitors with three goals apiece, while freshman Nick Weiss (Westfield, Mass.) chipped in with a pair.

            Freshman Harrison Keithly (South Portland, Maine) and Annunciata pumped in the first two goals of the second quarter for PSU to give the Panthers the lead for good at 5-3.  After Weiss cut the margin down to one goal, Annunicata, Long and Keithly notched consecutive strikes to make it an 8-4 Panther advantage.  Petitti answered for UMB in the final minute of the half to make it 8-5 at the intermission.

            Petitti's goal to open the third period brought the Beacons to within two goals again, but PSU scored the next four, one each from sophomore C.J. Frates (Merrimack, N.H.), Annunciata, Morello and senior Stephen Patch (Newbury, N.H.).  McGoff snuck one in for UMB but PSU opened up a comfortable lead (17-7) with the next five goals, three by Morello and one apiece from Annunciata and Long.

            UMB closed out the scoring with the final four goals in the last 10 minutes, two from Ryan McGoff, one by junior Patrick McGoff (Charlestown, Mass.) and the last one by Weiss.

            PSU dominated the face-off spot, winning 26 of the 32 draws. Junior Scott Giusti (West Newton, Mass.) captured 16-of-17 face-offs while senior Devon Smith (Plattekill, N.Y.) won 10-of-14.

            The Panthers finished with a 58-24 advantage in shots and a 45-30 margin in ground balls. Junior Jesse Kutz (Hopkinton, Mass.) made five saves to earn the win in the Panther goal before giving way to sophomore Zach Taylor (Littleton, Mass.) for the final nine minutes.  Senior Henry Bristol (South Hadley, Mass.) finished with 20 saves for UMB, the sixth time this season he has made at least 20 stops in a game. 

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