DANBURY, CT - The Western Connecticut State University women's soccer team, behind a pair of second-half goals, defeated visiting Castleton University, 3-1, in the Little East Conference semifinals at the Westside Athletic Complex on Thursday night.
The Colonials, now 14-5-2, will be making their 14th appearance in the league title match. They will travel to top seed UMass Boston, which defeated #4 Eastern Connecticut, 2-0 on Thursday night. The championship game will be either at Boston College High School, just outside the campus of the Beacons at 4 pm on Saturday, November 9.
The hosts got on the scoreboard in the 13th minute when freshman Skylar Jorge (Trumbull, CT) tallied her first collegiate goal. She was set up with a swift pass from sophomore Kaleigh Panek (Shelton, CT).
At the 30:57 mark of the first stanza, Castleton, now 10-10, evened the score at 1-1 when senior forward Makenzi Bellando (Carver, MA) dribble twice inside the six-yard box before depositing her seventh goal of the season.
Panek registered what proved to be the game-winning goal, her fourth of her second season, when she collected a rebound off of one of Loren Henderson's (Rutland, VT) 18 saves. It was Panek's team-leading 18th marker of the season.
Just under 10 minutes later, freshman forward Myah Croze (Bristol, CT) scored an insurance goal when WestConn was awarded a penalty kick with 11:17 remaining in the second half. Croze, who should receive consideration for LEC honors when they come out next week, tied Panek for the team goal-scoring lead with her 18th of the season.
Karly Martin (Bristol, CT) earned the victory in goal for the Colonials after making six saves.
"Castleton gave an exceptional effort tonight, but I think this group would not let anything but a win be the result," said fourth-year WestConn head coach Alex Harrison. "We have to get ready for a quick turnaround and be able to go full tilt on Saturday."
WestConn, which now has a 30-7-4 record all time in the LEC Tournament and 11 league titles, held a 36-13 advantage on shot attempts on Thursday.