PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's lacrosse team makes its second appearance in three years in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Tournament this Wednesday, traveling to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, for a first-round contest Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
The Panthers (13-5 overall) and Mules (13-3) will meet for the second time this season at Bill Alfond Field. Colby defeated Plymouth State, 24-15, back on Apr. 11th. The winner moves on to the regional semifinals this Saturday at Middlebury, where they will face Bowdoin College at 11:30 a.m.
PSU has won eight straight games since that loss to Colby, including the Little East Conference championship last Saturday. The Panthers have won 13 of their last 15 games, with the only two setbacks to Colby and Bowdoin.
"I'm on cloud nine," said PSU head coach Paula Habel after the Panthers knocked off Eastern Connecticut last Saturday to claim their third LEC Championship in four years. "This is my first NCAA bid as a coach. Many of our players went to the NCAAs two years ago, but now we can all go together as a team."
Plymouth State will be making its seventh straight post-season appearance, including NCAA berths in 2000, 2001 and 2004 and ECAC berths in 2002, 2003 and 2005. The Panthers were defeated at perennial powerhouse Middlebury in their first two NCAA appearances, but PSU advanced to the regional final in 2004 with a first-round bye and a regional semifinal win over Ithaca (14-12). Plymouth State lost to Amherst (21-6) in the regional final that year, finishing with a 17-1 record.
Colby is ranked 11th in the latest Division III national poll. The Mules had an 11-game winning streak en route to their 13-3 mark, including key wins over NCAA-Tournament teams Colorado College, Plymouth State and Bowdoin. Their only losses were to Middlebury and Amherst (in overtime) in the regular season, and to Williams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
The Panthers are led by a strong contingent of seniors and juniors who were key parts of the 2004 team that advanced to the NCAA Regional final. That group includes midfielders Kelsey MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.), Amanda Spadafora (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), Nicole Evans (Scituate, Mass.) and Annie Pinault (Framingham, Mass.), attackers Bethany Brown (Norwich, Conn.), Meg Cupoli (Southboro, Mass.), Caitlyn Irving (Avon, Conn.) and Liz Boddy (Brentwood, N.H.), and defenders Meghan O'Neil (Scituate, Mass.) and Hillary Arthur (Essex Jct., Vt.)
-- 30 --