Panthers overpower Warriors with first half onslaught
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – In a rematch of last year's Little East Conference (LEC) championship game, top-seeded Plymouth State University jumped out to an early lead, then coasted to a 19-8 win over second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University to earn its seventh LEC women's lacrosse title in a game at Arold Field on Saturday.
PSU (14-3) made its fifth-straight appearance in the championship game while defending its title from last spring, when the Panthers, then the two-seed, upset number one seed ECSU 13-12 in Willimantic. Plymouth State earned the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. After a 3-3 start the Panthers have rattled off 11 consecutive wins. Eastern Connecticut drops to 11-7 with the loss.
Sophomore Sydney Dubois (Goffstown, N.H.) led the Panthers' offense with a career-best six goals, while adding an assist. Senior Sam Sullivan (Canton, Mass.) chipped in with a four-goal effort, and classmate Megan Tingley (Natick, Mass.) set a new school record with eight assists. Tingley also added three goals to match the program record for points in a game with 11. She was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after totaling seven goals and nine assists in PSU's two playoff games.
While last year's title game came down the wire, this game was never in doubt. The Panthers raced out to a five-goal lead in the opening ten minutes. Senior Sophia Guerriero (Essex, Mass.) got the scoring started with a free position goal 3:22 into the game and Sullivan scored less than a minute later. Tingley added back-to-back goals, then assisted on the next two as Dubois and sophomore Sam Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) made it 6-0. Dubois found the back of the cage on a free position shot and Tingley connected with Guerriero to push the lead to 8-0 midway through the first half.
The Warriors got on the board with a pair of goals just 47 seconds apart, but PSU added four more tallies before the first half expired. Sullivan and Dubois both cashed in on free position opportunities, while junior Veronyca Daniels (Concord, N.H.) added an unassisted goal. Dubois snuck one past the ECSU goalie with Tingley recording her fourth assist of the first half with just 16 seconds remaining.
|Most Outstanding Player - Tingley|
Eastern Connecticut senior Katie Burke (South Windsor, Conn.) notched the first of her four goals to open the second half, but Tingley found Sullivan in a player-up situation to restore the ten-goal lead, 13-3, with 27:48 left on the clock. Burke and junior Michelina Pinto (Groton, Conn.) scored 40 seconds apart for the visitors before Plymouth answered with five consecutive goals to put the game out of reach for certain. Daniels and Guerriero poured in goals exactly one minute apart and Tingley recorded her record-tying and record-setting assists on tallies by Dubois and Sullivan with 18:03 left in the half. Tingley added her third goal for good measure with just under 13 minutes to play.
The Warriors answered with three in a row, with Burke scoring twice, but Dubois capped the win with her sixth of the game in the final minutes.
Dubois and junior Kimberly Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) led PSU with six draw controls, while Zuccaro added four ground balls. Senior Clarissa Foote (Weare, N.H.) earned the win in net to improve to 13-3, while picking up five ground balls.
Senior Maddie Bodington (Stratford, Conn.) led the Warriors with seven draw controls. Junior Jessica Purick (Riverhead, N.Y.) made four saves while dropping to 11-7.
PSU held a 28-14 advantage in shots and finished 5-of-9 in free position shots, including 5-of-7 in the first half. The Panthers won the ground ball battle by a 21-14 margin.
The Panthers will learn their next opponent during the NCAA selection show, scheduled to air on NCAA.com at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday. PSU will be playing in its sixth NCAA Tournament. This marks the second time Plymouth State has won consecutive titles, with the first coming as part of a three-peat covering the 2002-04 seasons. PSU improves to 21-9 (.700) in LEC tournament play and 7-4 in the championship game.
|The 2018 Little East Conference Women's Lacrosse Champions.|
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