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Panthers to host UMD in LEC semifinal

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - With a second consecutive conference championship and national tournament hopes on the line, the Plymouth State College men's soccer team begins its post-season run this Friday, hosting a Little East Conference semi-final match at Panther Field.

Seeded #2 after finishing second in the LEC during the regular season with a 6-1-0 mark, defending champion Plymouth State will entertain third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Friday at 4 p.m. PSC, 10-5-0 overall, earned a bye in Tuesday's opening round, setting up the match against the Corsairs, 13-5-0, who advanced with a 1-0 triumph over sixth-seeded Eastern Connecticut Tuesday in North Dartmouth, Mass.

The winner advances to Sunday's championship game against the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Keene State and fifth-seeded Western Connecticut. Keene State, 16-3-0, also received a bye in Tuesday's opening round, while WCSU, 9-7-4, advanced past fourth-seeded Rhode Island College on penalty kicks after playing to a 0-0 tie.

Sunday's title game will be played at 12 noon at the site of the highest remaining seed. The LEC Champion receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Friday's PSC-UMD game will be a rematch of last Saturday's regular season finale at UMD, in which the Panthers pulled out a 2-0 victory to secure second place in the LEC (and a bye in the first round and the right to host Friday's semifinal). The two teams played a memorable match in the 2000 LEC Championship game at PSC, with the Panthers finally prevailing in a dramatic triple overtime thriller to capture the title and earn the automatic NCAA berth.

Plymouth State once again features a strong defensive squad, one that allowed only 18 goals in 15 games. Anchoring the defense is senior stopper Antoine Moiboueyi (Gabon, Africa) and senior sweeper Magnus Eriksson (Arjang, Sweden), along with sophomore Mike Hallworth (Sandown, N.H.) and freshman Nick Libera (Cromwell, Conn.). Senior keeper Scott Laine (Spencer, Mass.) has been the mainstay between the pipes for PSC, posting a 0.94 goals against average with four shutouts.

The Panthers have a balanced offense. Moiboueyi and sophomore Michael Cantelli (Raymond, N.H.) have scored six goals apiece, and junior Justin Wengell (Newington, Conn.) has contributed five goals. Senior midfielder Garry Thomson (Glasgow, Scotland) leads the team in points with three goals and nine assists for 15 points.