LEC women's soccer championship: Warriors advance on PKs
KEENE, N.H. 11/6/11- After the two teams played to a scoreless draw through 90 minutes of regulation play and two overtimes, second seed Eastern Conn. State won the Little East Conference women's soccer championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament after besting top seeded Keene State College in penalty kicks 3-2 on Sunday at Owl Athletic Complex.
It was the second time the Warriors (11-8-1) had claimed the LEC title on PKs against the Owls in the finals. ECSU won the 2003 title in the same fashion.
Keene State (13-7-2) will now await an invitation to the ECAC Championships, a tournament it has won the last two years.
Senior Melissa Dempsey (East Weymouth, Mass.) and sophomore Jessica Berthiaume (Worcester, Mass.) found the back of the net for the Owls in the penalty kick session. Sophomore Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, N.J.), senior Jo-Ann Merheb (Bethel, Conn.) and junior Kelly Wallace scored penalty kicks for ECSU. Wallace's kick, a shot to the top left, sealed the championship for the Warriors who capture their fourth tournament title.
Keene State won the 2002 and 2004 championships.
Both teams had a chance to score in regulation play. In the first half, Melissa Dempsey's (East Weymouth, Mass.) had a dive that went off the cross bar. Berthiaume got a foot on the rebound, but her shot was blocked by a Warrior defender.
In the second half, junior Joan Hamel (Weare, N.H.) had an opportunity to get KSC on the board at the 39:24 mark, but ECSU senior goalie Theresa Pagnozzi (Waterford, Conn.) stopped her close-range shot at the left corner of the goal.
The Warriors appeared to get the go-ahead goal nine minutes later. Following a corner kick, senior Sam Konopka (Hebron, Conn.) sent a cross over to junior Christine DeFilippo (Ronkonkoma, N.Y) who headed the ball to the goal. The ball hit the post and KSC senior keeper Megan Dempsey (East Weymouth, Mass.) was able to grab it before it crossed the goal line.
Keene State also had strong opportunities in each overtime period. At the 2:05 mark of the first overtime, Melissa Dempsey sent a ball in the box that was redirected by junior Brittany Croteau (Swanzey, N.H.) right into the hands of Pagnozzi. With seconds winding down in the second overtime, Hamel broke in alone, but Pagnozzi, who was named MVP of the tournament, stopped her bid with a diving save.
Keene State, which carried play throughout the game, outshot the Warriors 13-3. ESCU had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. Junior Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield, Conn.) and Pagnozzi each saw time in goal for the Warriors. MacLeod made nine saves in the first half while Pagnozzi stopped seven shots in the second half and two OT periods.