Worcester, MA --- Sophomore Gaby Gonet (Agawam, MA) booted the match-clinching penalty kick as Worcester State drew with the University of New England 1-1 and advanced to the ECAC Division III New England Tournament semifinals, 5-4, in a shootout this evening at Coughlin Field.
The top-seeded Lancers (13-5-2) now host the semifinals and championship on Saturday and Sunday. The Blue and Gold will play #4 UMass Boston at 12 PM and on the other side of the bracket, #2 Keene State takes on sixth-seeded St. Joseph's (Connecticut) at 3 o'clock. The final game of the tournament is slated for noon.
The Nor'easters wrap up their 2011 campaign at 12-2-4 overall.
Worcester State originally staked the 1-0 lead in the 31st minute when they scored on a breakaway. Junior Brianne Beckman (Lakeville, MA) targeted senior Sarah Rafferty (Uxbridge, MA) who then slipped her second marker of the season past UNE's keeper. Beckman added her team-leading seventh dish.
At the end of the opening frame, the Nor'easters actually held the 8-5 edge in shots, but couldn't get enough of a good attempt off to test senior net minder Angiezaka Sychtysz (Warren, MA).
The Lancers would then go on the aggressive in the second period as they would outshoot the visitors, 7-4, but they came up empty. Their best chance for the insurance marker came in the 69th minute when senior Danielle Clifford (Attleboro, MA) had Beckman open in front of the net, but fourth-year Jess Woodnorth (Concord, NH) was right there to pick up the loose ball.
It wasn't until the final 10 minutes that UNE picked it up as they would have a golden opportunity to knot the game in the 84th minute on a ball that slipped past the Lancers backs, but junior Mariah Messina (Tewksbury, MA) came out of nowhere to kick the ball out of harm's way.
Staying on the offensive, the Nor'easters got on the scoreboard with 1:22 remaining on a wild scramble. Following a throw-in from the right sideline, sophomore Ellie Arsenault (Saco, ME) used her head to flick the ball to junior Nicole Faircloth (Westfield, MA) who then passed it to senior Alice Read (Auburn, ME) to equalize the game.
In the first overtime, Worcester State would have the 5-1 advantage in shots with two great opportunities by Clifford, but the contest would remain scoreless as her first effort went wide and the second was just over the net. Nor'easter senior Katie Caron (Scarborough, ME) had a header with seconds remaining, but Sychtycz grabbed the ball in its tracks as time expired.
The second session would only see one two shots by UNE – including another late bid by Caron in the final two minutes of the period.
In the penalty kick session, the two squads would make each of their first three attempts until Faircloth hit the Nor'easters fourth bid wide to the left. Beckman then made her fourth to force UNE to make their next try. In the fifth round, junior Emily Lodge (Lyman, ME) did just that to knot the PK score 4-4 after Clifford failed to convert WSU's final attempt.
With the sudden death on the line UNE, sophomore Morgan Humphreys (Rocky Hill, CT) hit the cross bar to set the stage for Gonet's match sealing conversion.
Sychtysz ended the night with five stops for the hosts while Woodnorth collected seven saves for the visitors.
The Lancers would finish with the slim advantages in shots (17-15) and corners (3-2).
Ironically in Worcester State's only other ECAC appearance, as the eighth seed they would lose in a 3-0 shootout to top-seed Babson after the two squads were tied 3-3 in the 1998 quarterfinals.
UNE was also handed their second straight loss in PK's as they were upstaged in the first round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament by Western New England, 5-4, after a 1-1 draw through 110 minutes of play.
With her assists Beckman is now just one helper away from tying the single-season record which is held by two players.