DANBURY, CT - The Western Connecticut State University women's soccer team, behind goals from Brooke Gallagher (Middletown, NY) and Kaleigh Panek (Shelton, CT), defeated University of Southern Maine, 2-0 in the first semifinal match of the 2018 Little East Conference Championships at the Westside Athletic Complex on Friday afternoon.
The Colonials, now 13-8, will take on the winner of the second semifinal, fourth seed University of Massachusetts Boston, in the championship on Saturday at noon, right back at the WAC. The Beacons defeated second seed Eastern Connecticut State University, 1-0, also on Friday at WCSU.
"At this point of the season, anything can happen, seed mean nothing," said WestConn head coach alex Harrison. "We took advantage of a few odd bounces and were able to put away a couple loose balls today."
WestConn, which is a 10-time LEC Champions, including the last three seasons, avoided falling behind in the 15th minute after Southern Maine's Ciera Berthiaume (Windham, ME) hit the left post on a penalty kick.
Early in the 29th minute, Emma Cost (Waterboro, ME) had a golden opportunity for the visitors but her attempt caromed off the crossbar and back out past the Colonials' defense.
The two teams were deadlocked at 0-0 heading into the intermission despite the Colonial holding a 13-7 advantage on shot attempts over the first 45 minutes.
At the 55:58 mark, Gallagher deposited a rebound into the back of the net. Allison Oakley (Beekman, NY) took the initial shot but the ball caromed directly back out to Gallagher and she scored her second goal of the season.
With 18:54 remaining in the game, Panek scored her team-leading 12th goal of the season. She received the lead pass from junior back Jasmine Grey (Naugatuck, CT) and flicked the ball to the back right corner of the goal.
For the game, the Colonials finished with a convincing 25-12 advantage on shots and doubled up the Huskies with six corner kicks.
Freshman goalie Karly Martin (Bristol, CT) made four saves and recorded her fifth clean sheet of the season. She is now 6-2 after taking over the starting net minder duties at the midway point of the regular season.
Taylor Canastra (Fairhaven, MA) registered 10 saves for the Huskies, which are now 14-5-1.
"It's a quick turnaround, coming back to play in less than 24 hours, but that's part of the pleasure of playing in the post season," added Harrison.
NOTE: Since the LEC crowned a women's soccer champion, WestConn has won 10 times (1999, 2000, 01, 06, 07, 08, 10, 15, 16, 17), Keene State College (2002, 04, 13, 14) and Eastern Connecticut (2003, 05, 09, 11) four times each. UMass Boston captured the 2012 title.