Sullivan leads Panthers to fifth straight championship game
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Sam Sullivan (Canton, Mass.) matched a career-high with seven goals to lead top-seeded Plymouth State University to a 15-12 win over fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the semifinal round of the Little East Conference (LEC) women's lacrosse tournament at Arold Field on Thursday afternoon.
With the win the Panthers (13-3) advance to their fifth straight championship game, while UMass Dartmouth has its season come to a close with an 11-7 mark. Plymouth State will host second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University for the LEC title and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The same two teams met in last year's championship game, with PSU holding on for a 13-12 win.
It was a game of runs, as both teams scored in bunches. PSU jumped out to a 5-0 lead through the first 20 minutes with Sullivan and classmate Megan Tingley (Natick, Mass.) each scoring twice. Junior Kimberly Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) had the fifth goal with 11:15 remaining in the half.
Senior Erin Kish (Littleton, Mass.) scored twice in a span of 22 seconds to put the Corsairs on the board. Sullivan's third tally came with just under eight minutes remaining in the half to put the hosts ahead 6-2, but UMD ran off four straight scores and sophomore Sam Muir (Sturbridge, Mass.) evened the game at six-apiece with back to back goals in the final 80 seconds. PSU struck back quickly with Tingley sneaking one past the Corsairs' goalie with just nine seconds remaining, and Sullivan found the back of the cage just before the horn sounded to give the hosts an 8-6 lead at the half.
Plymouth scored the first five goals of the second half in a matter of six-and-a-half minutes to pull away. Sullivan had a pair of scores, with Tingley adding her fourth of the game and Zuccaro her second. Sophomore Sam Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) also scored in the streak as PSU took a 13-6 lead.
Kish singlehandedly kept the Corsairs' season alive, scoring four straight goals in a nine minute span to cut the margin to 13-10 with 12:11 left to play. Junior Veronyca Daniels (Concord, N.H.) stopped the streak to push the lead to four (14-10), and Sullivan's final goal of the game with just under seven minutes to play made it 15-10. UMD tacked on a pair of late tallies to account for the 15-12 final.
With her seven goals Sullivan moves into fourth all-time with 159 career goals. She added an assist on the day for an eight-point game, moving her into eighth in program history. Tingley added four goals and an assist for the game, with Zuccaro (two goals) and Daniels (one goal, one assist) also logging multi-point games. Senior Sophia Guerriero (Essex, Mass.) led the Panthers with nine draw controls, while sophomore Sydney Dubois (Goffstown, N.H.) chipped in with three ground balls and four caused turnovers. Senior Clarissa Foote (Weare, N.H.) made 13 saves and picked up six ground balls to improve to 12-3 on the season.
Kish finished with seven goals for the Corsairs, and senior Leah Douty (Framingham, Mass.) added two goals, four assists, three draw controls and a pair of ground balls. Junior Kaitlyn Burchill (Bridgewater, Mass.) made 14 stops in goal, but fell to 11-7.
PSU held a 39-34 advantage in shots and an 18-11 edge draw controls.
The Panthers will look to capture their seventh LEC crown with a win on Saturday. PSU is 6-4 in the championship game since the LEC first sponsored women's lacrosse in 2002.
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