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Panthers win ECAC Women's Lax Championship

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University captured the ECAC Division III New England Women's Lacrosse Championship Sunday with a 12-7 victory over Eastern Connecticut State University at Arold Field.

PSU, which won its ninth straight game, avenged the loss to ECSU in last year's ECAC Championship game. The Panthers have now won five of six games against the Warriors in the past two years, including both regular season meetings and two Little East Conference championship games. Plymouth State completes the season at 14-3, while Eastern Conn. ends up at 10-6. ECSU won 10 of its final 13 games, with all three losses coming to PSU.

Plymouth State goalie Carmen Villanueva (East Schodack, N.Y.) made 13 saves and was named ECAC Tourney Most Outstanding Player. She made several point-blank saves on Eastern's leading scorer Mo Deegan (Westport, Conn.). Villanueva also stopped all five of ECSU's free-position shot attempts.

Junior Katie Sheridan (West Sayville, N.Y.) led the PSU offense with five goals, while freshman Bethany Brown (Norwich, Conn.) added two goals and an assist. Senior Julie Shields (Whtiby, Ont.) also contributed two goals, and senior Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.), junior Michelle Norton (Sandwich, Mass.), and sophomore Annmarie Guglielmo (Gansevoort, N.Y.) each chipped in with one goal apiece.

Sophomore Sharon Kilpatrick (Londonderry, N.H.) was the top scorer for the Warriors, tossing in three goals. Deegan finished with a goal and three assists, and seniors Lindsay Carley (Newtown, Conn.) and Lauren Davern (Jackson Heights, N.Y.) and Alana Florian (Southington, Conn.) each scored once for Eastern.

It was a tight game throughout the first half. Sheridan scored twice in the first four minutes to stake the Panthers to a lead, but Eastern countered with goals by Deegan and Kilpatrick to tie it at 2-2. Shields and Guglielmo gave the Panthers a two-goal lead back, but Kilpatrick found the net twice in the final four minutes of the half to make it a 4-4 game at the break.

The Panthers surged ahead in the second half, taking an 8-5 lead with 10 minutes to play. Davern scored to pull the Warriors to within two, but Sheridan delivered a knock-out blow by scoring two goals just nine seconds apart to put the Panthers ahead 10-6 with eight minutes remaining. Sheridan and Shields added one more goal each for PSU, and Florian rounded out the scoring for ECSU.

Junior Erika Blozie (South Windsor, Conn.), who was the Most Outstanding Player a year ago when Eastern upset Plymouth State in the championship game, finished with eight saves on Sunday.

It is the second ECAC Championship for PSU's women's lacrosse team. The Panthers captured the first ECAC women's lax title in 1984.