KEENE, N.H.—Freshmen Kelly Chadnick and Jenna Bellano combined to score seven goals as the Keene State College women's lacrosse team advanced to the Little East Conference Tournament Championship with a 13-9 win over the University of Southern Maine on Friday at Owl Athletic Complex.
The Owls (13-4) advance to the tournament finals for the fifth time in program history; KSC won tournament titles in 2009, 2011, and 2012, and were runner-up in 2004.
Southern Maine sees its season come to an end at 8-9.
KSC roared out to a 6-1 lead in the first 19 minutes of the game. Emilee Silegy opened the scoring with an unassisted tally 55 seconds into the game, but Southern Maine tied it up through Shelby Turcotte's free position effort. The Owls rattled off the next five goals to take the lead for good. Goals from Chadnick and Bellano started things off, and Kaitlin Nolan and Julie Trombetta got in on the action before Bellano capped the burst with an unassisted goal with 11:04 left in the first.
USM's Rosie Forster and KSC's Eliza Witherbee traded goals before the Huskies got individual goals from Sarah Pelliginelli and Jenna Cyr to cut the lead to 7-4 with 1:18 left in the first half. Bellano put KSC up 8-4 at halftime with 18 seconds left in the first half.
The Owls came out of the gates hot to open the second half, as Chadnick scored with just 20 seconds gone in the half. Goals for Witherbee and Trombetta increased the lead to 11-4 before Chadnick completed her hat-trick off a pass from Trombetta with 18:08 to play.
Southern Maine mounted a mini-comeback, starting with a free position goal by Sarah Fay with 14:36 to play. An unassisted goal by Pelligrinelli and a free position marker by Jacki Kelly made it 12-7 with 7:55 remaining.
Chadnick restored KSC's advantage to six with her final goal of the game. Goals from Turcotte and Pelligrinelli got the Huskies within 13-9, but KSC goalie Erin Taylor saved her best for last, stoning Kelly at point blank range and the Huskies would not get closer.
KSC will play either Western Connecticut State or Plymouth State in the LEC title game on Sunday, at a time to be announced. The winner will receive the LEC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.