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Keene State upends Plymouth State in ECAC Women’s Lax

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Top-seeded Mount Holyoke College and third-seeded Keene State College will meet for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III women’s lacrosse championship on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. after capturing semifinal contests Saturday afternoon at Plymouth State University’s Arold Field.

            Keene State knocked off second-seeded and host Plymouth State in the tournament’s first game, 12-8, and Mount Holyoke cruised past fourth-seeded Husson University, 20-7, in the second contest.  The Owls (13-5) are seeking their second ECAC championship and first since 2004 while the Lyons (11-6) are making their first appearance in the ECAC title game.

            Mount Holyoke edged the Owls 17-15 during its spring break trip in West Palm Beach, Fla. earlier this year (March 17). The Lyons are perfect in three all-time meetings between the programs, coming out on top 13-12 in both 2008 and 2009. 

Keene State 12, Plymouth State 8   (Box Score)

            Junior Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.) and freshman Nicole Curry (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton) scored four goals apiece to lead the Owls past their Granite State and Little East Conference rivals in the first semifinal.  Keene State avenged a 9-8 setback to the Panthers in the regular season that cost the Owls the outright LEC championship and caused a three-way tie for the conference title.

            Albert added a pair of assists for a team-high six points for the Owls, while sophomore Caitlyn Corace (Mahopac, N.Y.) contributed two goals and two assists.  Freshman Lauren Brown (Agawam, Mass.) anchored the defensive unit with four caused turnovers and three ground balls, and sophomore Alyssa Marinaccio (Narragansett, R.I.) was outstanding in the Owls goal, making 11 saves.

            PSU senior Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass.) led all scorers with five goals and one assist, including her 100th career goal.  She becomes the 14th women’s player in the program’s history to score 100 career goals.  Judd also collected game-highs of five draw controls and seven ground balls.  Sophomore Brianna Davis (Framingham, Mass.) scored her team-leading 50th goal for PSU but that was the only goal she scored against the tough Owls’ defense.

            It was a scoreless game the first 14 minutes before Curry put the Owls on the board first.  Judd answered for PSU a minute and a half later, and it stayed 1-1 for the next six minutes.  Albert gave the Owls the lead again with just under nine minutes remaining in the half, and Judd tied it again with 5:21 on the clock.  Keene State took a 3-2 lead into the intermission when Curry tallied her second goal with just over two minutes to play.  PSU senior goalie Morgan Lemmon (Gilford, N.H.) made two big saves to keep it a one-goal game.

            The Owls started to pull away early in the second half with the first three goals, two by Albert and one by Curry, to go up 6-2.  Judd singlehandedly kept the Panthers in the game, scoring her third goal at the 23:43 mark to stop the Owl momentum, but Keene State rattled off three goals in a row in a three-minute span to take a 9-3 advantage just past the midway point of the second half.

            PSU did not quit and outscored the Owls 5-3 over the last 14 minutes of the game, but Keene had too large a lead and the Panther comeback attempt fell short.

            Plymouth State finished with a 30-18 advantage in shots and a 20-15 margin in ground balls.  The Panthers also won 15 of the 22 draws in the center circle. 

Mount Holyoke 20, Husson 7  (Box Score)

            The top-seeded Lyons got goals from 10 different plays in a relatively easy win over Husson in the second semifinal.  Mount Holyoke had just a 4-1 lead at the midway point of the first half before notching seven unanswered goals in the last 10 minutes of the frame to take a commanding 11-1 advantage into the intermission.

            Senior Perry Markell (Portsmouth, R.I.) led the way for the winners, winning 12 draws and recording six points on three goals and three assists.  Senior Peggy Wefald (Granger, Ind.) and sophomore Hilary Bombard (Northampton, Mass.) chipped in with three goals apiece and Bombard picked up a team-leading six ground balls and caused five turnovers.

            Freshman Lindsey Kanno (Cranston, R.I.) also came off the Lyons bench to score four goals and one assist while sophomore Alex Crean (West Hartford, Conn.) also contributed two goals and one assist off the bench. Mount Holyoke senior starting goalie Jessica Brezicha (Olympia, Wash.) allowed only one goal in the first half while making six saves before giving way to classmate Jeanmarie Petersen (Sea Girt, N.J.) in the second half.

            Freshman Meghan O’Neil (Hartford, Vt.) led the way for Husson with three goals on the day.  Junior Caitlin Butterfield (Gorham, Maine) topped the Eagles with seven draw controls, and senior Christin Grant (East Swansey, N.H.) picked up a team-high four ground balls.

            Mount Holyoke finished with a 44-26 margin in shots.  Husson put up a strong battle and collected 18 ground balls compared to 21 for the winners, and Mount Holyoke had a slight advantage in draw controls by a 17-12 count. 

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