PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Top-seeded Plymouth State University raced to a 9-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of the game Saturday afternoon and went on to defeat second-seeded Curry College, 16-7, at Arold Field to capture the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Women's Lacrosse Championship.
It is the third ECAC New England title for Plymouth State in the past five years, adding to the two the Panthers captured in 2003 and 2005. PSU, which also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2006, made the most of its eighth straight post-season appearance and finished the season with a 14-5 record. Curry, which was making its second straight appearance in the ECAC Championship game, completed the most successful season in school history with a 15-6 record.
The Panthers used their usual balanced team effort to defeat the Colonels, with four players scoring at least three goals each. Senior midfielder Kelsey MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) was one of them, and she also added 14 ground balls, nine draw controls and eight caused turnovers and was named tournament Most Valuable Player (pictured at right, with ECAC Rep Katie Fulton).
Other big contributors for PSU included MacDonald's fellow seniors Annie Pinault (Framingham, Mass.), Meg Cupoli (Southboro, Mass.) and Amanda Spadafora (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.). Pinault was the high scorer with three goals and two assists; Cupoli added three goals and three ground balls; and Spadafora chipped in with one goal, two draw controls and four caused turnovers. Sophomore Cassidy Barry (Branford, Conn.) also scored three goals, freshman Taylor Cambal (West Yarmouth, Mass.) added two goals and an assist, and freshman Rhiannon Groff (Nashua, N.H.) scored once.
Junior Nikki MacKay (Framingham, Mass.) and senior Emily Knight (Boulder, Colo.) led the Curry offense with two goals and one assist each. Seniors Maureen Ruane (Paxton, Mass.) and Jessica Nassar (North Andover, Mass.) and freshman Ashley Sherman (Billerica, Mass.) added one goal apiece.
Cambal scored twice in the opening five minutes of the game to give PSU an early lead. After MacKay put the visitors on the board with 23:51 on the clock, the Panthers rattled off seven unanswered goals over the next seven minutes, three by MacDonald and two each by Pinault and Cupoli, to take a 9-1 lead. PSU's largest lead was 13-2 late in the first half before Curry scored twice to make it a 13-4 game at the break.
Curry played improved ball in the second half but couldn't crack the veteran Panther defense, and PSU coasted home with the title. Plymouth State had a 27-11 advantage in ground balls and an 18-7 margin in draw controls.
The Panther seniors complete their careers with two NCAA Tournament berths, two ECAC New England Tournament titles, and a 57-17 overall record.
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