PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Top-seeded Plymouth State University captured its third consecutive Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Championship Saturday afternoon, defeating rival and second-seeded Keene State College 9-5 in the LEC Tournament title game at Arold Field.
The victory gives PSU the automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, which begins next week. The undefeated Panthers (16-0) recorded their school-record 16th victory of the season, and extended their overall winning streak to 25 games, dating back to last season.
PSU is also 23-0 against LEC opponents since the conference started women's lacrosse in 2002. PSU won New England Women's Lacrosse Alliance titles in 2000 and 2001.
Keene State, which was making its first appearance in the LEC title game, fell to 11-5 and is likely headed to the ECAC New England Tournament.
KSC opened the scoring six minutes into the game, but PSU answered just 24 seconds later. The Owls regained the lead three minutes later, only to see Plymouth State tie it again within 11 seconds. PSU then scored the final three goals of the half and maintained a 5-2 advantage at the break.
The Panthers scored the first two goals of the second half, and held a 9-3 lead with nine minutes to play. Keene State got consecutive goals with less than eight minutes remaining, but PSU tightened the defense and held on the rest of the way.
Senior Katie Sheridan (West Sayville, N.Y.), who scored three goals in PSU's dramatic come-from-behind semifinal victory over Eastern Connecticut, added two goals in the championship game as was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Her two goals give her a Little East Conference-leading 98 points (73 goals, 25 assists). She also continued climbing up the all-time Division III scoring list. She is now tied for fifth on the career goals list with 264, and is 10th in the career points department with 348.
Senior Michelle Norton (Sandwich, Mass.) and sophomore Bethany Brown (Norwich, Conn.) also scored two goals each for Plymouth State, while senior Jill Matteson (Chatham, Mass.), sophomore Nicole Evans (Scituate, Mass.) and freshman Liz Boddy (Brentwood, N.H.) added one goal apiece. Freshman Meg Cupoli (Southboro, Mass.) chipped in with two assists.
Sophomore Kristal Lundegaard (Babylon, N.Y.) led the Owls offensive effort with two goals, while junior Michelle Mason (Fairport, N.Y.), senior Natalie Kent (Billerica, Mass.) and Lauren Saunders (Fremont, N.H.) added one goal apiece.
PSU senior Carmen Villanueva (East Schodack, N.Y.) made 14 saves, and senior Jamie Litch (Addison, Vt.) made 17 saves for the Owls.
The other Panther starters who made solid contributions towards the LEC title include freshman midfielder Kelsey MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.), senior defender Cathy Berei (Trenton, N.J.), sophomore defender Megan O'Neil (Scituate, Mass.), and freshman defenders Steph Blanchette (Sudbury, Mass.) and Amanda Spadafora (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.).
-- 30 --