GORHAM, Maine – Freshman Samantha Ellis (New Vineyard, Maine/Mt. Blue) scored the game-winning goal just 27 seconds into the second overtime period to lift the third-seed University of Southern Maine Huskies over the sixth-seed Fitchburg State University Falcons in quarterfinal action of the 2018 Little East Conference Field Hockey Championship Tuesday afternoon at Hannaford Field.
With the win, the Huskies avenge a 2-1 loss to the Falcons earlier this season. Southern Maine advances to the semifinal round of the 2018 Little East Conference tournament and will face the winner of the No. 2 Keene State vs. No. 7 Bridgewater State game played later tonight. Southern Maine has won seven games in a row and is now 13-7 overall. Fitchburg State concludes its season at 10-10 overall.
Dominating the Falcons statistically with a 14-4 edge in shots and 9-5 in penalty corners, Southern Maine struggled to put the ball into the cage thanks in part to an outstanding effort in goal from FSU freshman goalkeeper Abby Bryant (Ware, Mass./Quabbin Regional) and a key defensive plays from junior Aislinn DeHorsey (Leominster, Mass.). The Huskies tooik a 1-0 advantage late in the first half converting off of one of its two penalty corners in the opening 35 minutes. Junior Abbie Staples (Alfred, Maine/Massabesic) scored her ninth goal of the season redirecting a pass from senior Dorina Sirois (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) in the 29th minutes.
Southern Maine retained the lead until the 46th minute when the Falcons rushed the USM goal for the equalizer. DeHorsey sent a well-time lead pass into the circle and onto the stick of sophomore Nicole Tocco (Gloucester, Mass.) for a 1-1 game. The goal was the ninth of the season for Tocco. Neither team was able to end the game in regulation as both teams goalkeepers turned in strong efforts.
Southern Maine dominated play in the first overtime, outshooting FSU 4-0, but Bryant stood strong in net. One of the Huskies' best chances of the game came on a breakaway attempt from Ellis, but was turned away on an aggressive play from Bryant. The Huskies were also awarded consecutive penalty corners as time expired in the first overtime frame, and nearly won the game on a last second shot from Staples, but DeHorsey made a spectacular diving play to earn her ninth defensive save of the season.
Headed to a second overtime, USM made quick work of the game as Staples and Sirois carried the ball down the near side of the field. Sirois centered the ball into the circle and after a deflection off of a FSU stick, Ellis scrapped her way to a dive shot for the game-winner.
Bryant finished the game making six saves and numerous key defensive clears. Southern Maine sophomore McKenzie Cormier (Hiram, Maine/Sacopee Valley), who entered the game in the second half and played through overtime earned the win. Starter freshman Lindsay Pych (West Milford, N.J./Morristown-Beard) made three saves in the first half.
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