Second-seeded Owls upset defending champion Panthers in dramatic final
NEW HAMPTON, N.H. – Sophomore Taylor Graf (Hanover, Mass.) scored the game-winning goal with 37 seconds remaining in the game Saturday afternoon to lift second-seeded Keene State College to a dramatic 10-9 victory over top-seeded Plymouth State University in the Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Tournament championship game at the New Hampton School field.
Keene State rallied from a three-goal deficit (7-4) with 17 minutes to play in the second half, and a two-goal differential (9-7) with less than five minutes to go. Senior Christa Demovellan (Westwood, Mass.) tallied consecutive goals for the Owls to tie the score, an unassisted marker with 4:18 to play and one on a free-position shot with 2:42 to play to set up Graf's game-winner.
Demovellan was named the LEC Most Outstanding Player for Keene State after finishing with a game-high four goals.
Keene State, 7-11 overall, captured its fourth Little East Tournament Championship and will receive the LEC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III National Championships. The Owls will learn their first-round opponent on the NCAA Selection Show Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. on NCAA.com. Keene State won previous Little East Tournaments in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Plymouth State had its nine-game winning streak snapped and finishes the season with a 13-4 overall record. The Panthers were seeking their second straight LEC title after upsetting the top-seeded Owls in Keene for last year's LEC crown.
The first half was low scoring with Demovellan scoring the first goal for Keene State seven minutes after the opening draw, and senior Amy MacDonald (Hull, Mass.) tying the score for PSU nearly 18 minutes in. KSC freshman Jackie Planchett and PSU freshman Megan Tingley (Natick, Mass.) traded goals with around nine minutes to go in the half, and MacDonald put in her second of the game with five minutes to go to give PSU a 3-2 at the intermission. Keene State had a 13-6 advantage in shots in the first half but trailed by a goal.
The Owls regained the lead early in the second half as Graf put in back-to-back goals in the first four minutes. PSU answered with four in a row in a span of two minutes, 23 seconds, to open up the largest lead of the game, 7-4, with 17 minutes to go.
Keene State started its comeback with goals by sophomore Jenna Bellano (Brookfield, Conn.) and junior Kaitlin Nolan (Mahopac, N.Y.) Senior Jackie Connerty (Nashua, N.H.) pushed the PSU lead back to two goals (8-6) with 12 minutes remaining before Demovellan sliced the margin back to one (8-7) with 10 minutes on the clock.
Sophomore Caroline Vonachen (Framingham, Mass.) scored what turned out to be PSU's final goal with 6:50 to play, before Demovellan and Graf scored the comeback and game-winning goals for KSC.
PSU had one last chance in the final 30 seconds of the game but a shot by Kaitlyn Wilder (Framingham, Mass.) was saved by Keene State sophomore goalie Alison Argiro (Hingham, Mass.), one of her five saves in the game. PSU senior goalie Casey Curran (Framingham, Mass.) had a busy day with 15 saves as Keene State finished with a 35-18 advantage in shots.
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