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PSU Women’s Soccer falls to LEC champs ECSU

Green scores for Panthers in regular season finale

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Eastern Connecticut State University clinched the Little East Conference women’s soccer regular season championship and an undefeated regular season Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over Plymouth State University on PSU’s Senior Day at Panther Field.

            The visiting Warriors, who are ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 10 nationally, finished with a 19-4 advantage in shots for the game, but needed a pair of goals by sophomore Taylor Buchanan (Ellington, Conn.) and freshman Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, N.J.) three minutes apart early in the second half to hold off the upset-minded Panthers.  Eastern completes the regular season at 15-0-3 overall and 6-0-1 in conference play to capture its first LEC title since sharing the crown with Western Connecticut in 2008.  PSU ends the regular season with a 7-10 overall record and 2-5 in Little East matches, finishing in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings.

PSU Women's Soccer Senior Day 2010
PSU Women's Soccer Senior Day at Panther Field.

            Top-seeded Eastern Conn. will receive a first-round bye in next week’s LEC Tournament, and will host a semifinal game Thursday in Willimantic, Conn.  Plymouth State will be the sixth seed in the tournament and will be on the road for Tuesday’s first-round game against an opponent to be determined.

            Eastern Connecticut maintained possession of the ball in the Panther half of the field much of the first half but could not get through the tough PSU defense.  The Warriors nearly got on the board at the 23-minute mark when freshman Tamar Merheb (Bethel, Conn.) got off a shot in traffic but it bounced off the left goal post and the game remained scoreless.  It looked like the teams would head to the locker room with a 0-0 deadlock, but sophomores Chelsea Downer (Colchester, Conn.) and Daniela Marchitto (Orange, Conn.) worked a nice give-and-go off a corner kick along the right end line, and Downer finished the play with her second goal of the season to the upper right corner with four minutes remaining in the half.

            Buchanan made an outstanding individual play for Eastern seven minutes into the second half, weaving through several Panther defenders and chipping a shot over the keeper’s reach for her team-leading 13th goal of the season.  PSU answered less than three minutes later, working a give-and-go on a corner kick from the right side very similar to the Warriors’ goal in the first half.  Junior Amy Green (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane) finished off the play for the Panthers with her third of the season, assisted by junior Sam Laliberte (Concord, N.H.) and freshman Laura Davis (Pelham, N.Y.)

            Eastern stopped any Panther momentum with its third goal of the afternoon less than a minute later.  Senior Lauren Hickey (Southwick, Mass.) sent a ball into the box, and Leonard redirected the ball into the net for her fourth of the season.

            That ended up as all of the scoring.  Laliberte got off two good shots for PSU in the final 15 minutes but one went wide and the other just over top of the crossbar.

            Before the game, PSU recognized its two seniors who were playing in their final home game – forward Rebecca Wilson (Clinton, Conn.) and midfielder Rachel Kindl (Granby, Conn.). 

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