WILIMANTIC, Conn. - Sophomore Jo-Ann Merheb (Bethel, Conn.) and senior Sarah Swann (Oxford, Conn.) broke a scoreless tie midway through the first half with goals three minutes apart and the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team went on to a 5-1 victory over Plymouth State University that ensured the Warriors of the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Little East Conference playoffs.
Eastern (10-5-3, 5-1-1 LEC) shares second place in the conference standings with UMass Boston and was awarded the No. 2 seed based on a tie-breaker. PSU wraps up the season at 6-9-2 overall and 1-6 in LEC play and will miss the LEC Tournament for the first time.
PSU managed only four shots in the match but scored on one of its two first-half shots seven minutes before the break. Freshman Julie Behan (Laconia, N.H.) came off the bench to score Plymouth State's only goal. Taking the team's only corner kick of the match, senior Lauren Lavery (Nashua, NH) sent the kick to the foot of Behan, who settled the ball on the right side of the box and fired it across the box inside the left post.
Although the Warriors controlled the tempo, they were unable to score the decisive fourth goal of the match until there were 12 minutes gone in the second half. Freshman Taylor Buchanan (Enfield, Conn.) helped Eastern re-gain the scoring edge by scoring on a penalty kick. Aided by a stiff wind, Buchanan's serve from the left corner sailed to the far post and tipped off the hand of the PSU keeper to give the Warriors a needed 3-1 lead.
Buchanan's goal opened the flood gates for Eastern, with junior Lauren Hickey (Southwick, Mass.) and Swann adding goals that gave Eastern three goals in a 10-minute span. Buchanan set up Hickey's goal with a corner kick into the box that deflected off a PSU defender. At the top of the box, Hickey hammered a one-timer under the cross bar to make it 4-1. Swann's 13th goal of the season in the 68th minute followed a long run down the left side as she slipped a low shot inside the post.
(Courtesy of Eastern Connecticut Sports Information)
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