WORCESTER, Mass. – The Worcester State University women's soccer team was crowned the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) tournament champions Sunday (Nov. 6) afternoon as Worcester's tournament MVP Ashleigh Howland (Wilmington, Mass.) scored a late game-winner to lift the Lancers over the No. 3 seeded Bridgewater State, 2-1.
The Lancers earned their seventh-ever MASCAC tournament championship as their most recent was in 2014 when they defeated Westfield State 1-0. With today's win over Bridgewater State, the Lancers earn an automatic bid in the NCAA regionals. The NCAA DIII women's soccer selection show is scheduled for Monday (Nov. 7) at 1:30 p.m. http://www.ncaa.com/live/player?vid=2016/2725&date=2016/11/07&sf41428582=1
After an uneventful first half, the Lancers capitalized on a free kick opportunity in the 47th minute when senior defender, Nicole Parenteau (Chicopee, Mass.) arched the ball into the goal box. Jenna Martin (Salem, NH) picked up the open ball after it deflected of Bridgewater's keeper, and pushed it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Bears knotted the score at 1-1 in the 61st minute on a 45-yard direct kick. Bridgewater's Molly Sheild (Mansfield, Mass.) soared the ball in the air, slipping into the top center of the net over Worcester State's keeper's head. This was the first goal of the season that Vanessa O'Donnell (Worcester, Mass.) let up against conference opponents.
Bridgewater looked as if they were going to take the lead in the 76th minute when Taylor Loyd (Halifax, Mass.) drifted a ball in the air from the left corner. Unfortunately for the Bears, it hit off the right post and Worcester State's defenders cleared the ball to maintain the tie score.
It wasn't until the 86th minute that Worcester had the go-ahead goal. Nikki DiPilla (Sterling, Mass.) wrapped the ball around her defender and passed the ball ahead to Howland who beat her defender and fired the ball in the net for the 2-1 score.
Worcester State's keeper O'Donnell registered a five-save performance in net, while Bridgewater's Lauren DeSousa (Taunton, Mass.) recorded three saves in the 90 minutes played.
Despite the win for the Lancers, Bridgewater State held the advantage in shots 16-13, and also in corner kicks 7-2.
The Bears wrap up their season with a 7-6-6 record, while the Lancers await their pairings for the NCAA tournament, standing at 9-6-2.
MASCAC Commissioner Angela Baumann and Tournament MVP Ashleigh Howland