(Courtesy of Plymouth State Sports Information)
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Seniors Bridget O'Brien (Boston, Mass.) and Erin Banfield (Montpelier, Vt.) scored third-period power-play goals 26 seconds apart to lift the University of Southern Maine to a 2-1 victory over Plymouth State University in ECAC Women's East action Friday evening at Hanaway Rink.
The host Panthers took a 1-0 lead into the third period, but the Huskies out-shot the home team 14-1 in the final frame, scoring the only two goals. USM, playing its third game in four days, improves to 8-5-1 overall and 5-1-0 in the ECAC East while PSU suffered its second straight one-goal loss and fell to 3-9-0 overall and 1-5-0 in conference play.
Plymouth State out-shot USM 12-6 in the first period, but neither team was able to put the puck in the net. The Panthers broke the scoreless deadlock at 4:39 of the middle frame when freshman defenseman Haley Branovan (Wexford, Pa.) stole the puck along the right boards, weaved through the USM defense and ripped a shot past the goalie stick side, just inside the left post for a shorthanded goal.
Both teams had five power-play opportunities in the first two periods, but the penalty kill units held the opponents at bay.
Southern Maine capitalized on a two-player advantage midway through the third period. PSU goalie Ali Ponte (Richmond Hill, Ontario) made a stop on junior Julia Pearl (Essex Jct., Vt.), but O'Brien pounced on the rebound and knocked in past Ponte for her fourth of the season, leveling the score at 1-1. Pearl and sophomore Chelsea Boucher (Gilford, N.H.) collected assists on the goal.
Before the Panthers had a chance to regroup, Banfield fired the go-ahead goal past Ponte from the left side with 9:04 on the clock, with assists from Pearl and junior Talya Bent (Cranston, R.I.). It was Banfield's career-high 10th goal of the season, and third most in the conference.
PSU had one more power-play chance with four minutes to play, but couldn't put one past junior goalie Liz Bergstrom (Chanhassen, Minn.), who finished with 23 saves to earn the win. Ponte wound up with 27 saves in the Panther goal.
PSU continues its seven-game home stand Saturday (2:00 p.m.) with a non-conference game against Franklin Pierce University. Southern Maine plays again Tuesday (7:00 p.m.) in a non-conference affair at Bowdoin College.