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Panthers drilled by Keene State in LEC Final

KEENE, N.H. - Freshman Jason Lombardo (Woburn, Mass.) scored three goals and was named Most Valuable Player Sunday as Keene State College earned a 5-0 victory over rival Plymouth State College in the Little East Conference Men's Soccer Tournament Championship Game.

It was the second LEC Championship for KSC, who also won the title with a victory over PSC in 1999. The top-seeded Owls, 18-3, extended their winning streak to 13 games and earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Second-seeded Plymouth State, 11-6, will await a possible berth in the ECAC New England Tournament.

Keene State built a 2-0 halftime lead on goals by Lombardo and Jimmy Hogan (Holderness, N.H.). Lombardo scored on a rebound following a corner kick at 14:39 and Hogan's goal at 32:43 was a header from a direct kick by Robby Carson (Goffstown, N.H.).

After Lombardo put the Owls up 3-0 with his second goal 58 seconds in to the second half, KSC goalie D.J. Nordmark (South Windsor, Conn.) made one of his two saves, a diving stop of a penalty kick from Panther junior Justin Wengell (Newington, Conn.). It was Nordmark's eighth shutout of the season. PSC senior keeper Scott Laine (Spencer, Mass.) finished with six saves.

The Owls added two more goals to round out the scoring. Casey Banks (Westborough, Mass.) notched his 12th of the season at 63:38 and Lombardo finished off his hat trick at 64:03 with his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

KSC head coach Ron Butcher was surprised by the outcome. "I expected a much tougher game. I never dreamed it would end that way, but the guys came ready to play and did what we asked of them.

Plymouth State was seeking its second straight title, having defeated UMass Dartmouth in triple overtime in last year's championship match.