Panthers fall short in third straight title game
KEENE, N.H. – Freshman Samantha Ballard scored five goals Saturday afternoon to lead second-seeded Keene State College to an 11-8 victory over fourth-seeded Plymouth State University in the championship game of the Little East Conference women's lacrosse tournament at the Owl Athletic Complex.
Ballard earned Most Outstanding Player honors as the Owls claimed their second straight LEC tourney title, both coming at the hands of Plymouth State. Keene State will take an 11-7 overall record into NCAA Championship Tournament next week. PSU wraps up its season at 11-7 as well. It's the fifth NCAA appearance for Keene State, who also won the LEC tournament in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015.
It was the third straight year that KSC and PSU had met in the championship game, but the first time the home team had won in that stretch. Plymouth State had won in Keene in 2014, while the Owls triumphed on the road last year.
Kaitlin Nolan had three goals and two assists in the win for the Owls, and Taylor Farland had a pair of goals. Alison Argiro had eight saves in the KSC net.
Sophomore Sam Sullivan (Canton, Mass.) led the Panthers with three goals, while junior Caroline Vonachen (Framingham, Mass.) and sophomore Megan Tingley (Natick, Mass.) added two goals each. Tingley had a team-high four draw controls, and junior Sammi Davies (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) and freshman Kimmie Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) each had three ground balls.
The two teams traded goals through the first six markers of the game. Vonachen scored 56 seconds into the contest, but Nolan answered at the 21:17 mark. Sullivan and Ballard swapped goals, and after Vonachen scored again, Farland found the net unassisted with 17:22 left for a 3-3 tie. Sullivan and Nolan traded goals, but the Owls tacked on two more for a 6-4 lead at the half.
Ballard and Tingley scored 57 seconds apart for the opening goals of the second half, and Ballard scored again off a feed from Graf with 20:06 to play. Sophomore Sophia Guerrero (Essex, Mass.) tallied an unassisted goal to pull the Panthers within 8-7 with 16:44 left, but that's as close as they would get. The Owls rattled off the next three to put some distance between the teams. PSU got one back on Tingley's free position effort with 1:49 left, but could not find any more goals as the Owls took the win.
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