PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The task of upsetting Plymouth State University in overtime for the second straight year presented itself, but was too tall an order as sophomore Jess Mezquita scored her second goal of the match nine minutes into sudden death overtime as Eastern Connecticut State University dropped a 2-1 Little East Conference decision Saturday afternoon at Kennedy Field on the campus of the New Hampton School.
Eastern (3-9, 2-5 LEC) forced overtime on senior Lindsey McKeon's (Chester) second goal of the season with ten minutes in regulation, but Mezquita answered with the game-winner nine minutes into overtime to send the Warriors to their sixth loss in seven road contests. Eastern dropped to 1-13 all-time against Plymouth on the road.
Last year, Eastern engineered its greatest comeback in program history against Plymouth at Rick McCarthy Field, scoring three unanswered goals to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and tie the match, and winning it, 4-3, five minutes into overtime on a goal by Morgan Sanson (Thomaston).
Following a scoreless first half, Mezquita gave Plymouth (6-6, 4-4 LEC) a 1-0 lead in the third quarter with her team-leading fifth goal of the year, but the Warriors evened the game behind McKeon, whose goal was set up by sophomore Brianna Nolan (Watertown), who had scored Eastern's first goal in a mid-week 2-1 home non-conference victory over Regis College.
Last year, Plymouth had finished in a tie with Eastern for the eighth and final LEC playoff spot but the tie-breaker went to the Warriors based upon its regular-season victory over the Panthers.
Although Plymouth controlled much of the first half, it was the Warriors who had the first real scoring chance. Sophomore Sydney Collentine (New Fairfield), whose goal with two minutes left in regulation forced OT a year ago, blasted a shot in the 19th minute, but junior goalie Jess Distler made a sliding save.
Eastern had another opportunity four minutes later when Sanson, a second-year senior and last year's leading scorer, came up with a turnover in the PSU circle, but her shot went wide of the
cage. The Panthers' best chance in the first half came off a penalty corner in the 24th minute as senior Maddie Kabasakalian found herself alone at the far side post, but her redirect attempt went just
wide of the post and the game went into the halftime break as a scoreless tie.
Mezquita nearly scored in the 36th minute, but her shot was kicked away by junior goalkeeper Keira Integlia (Branford), who made double-digit saves (ten) for the seventh time in 12 starts.
Four minutes later Mezquita put PSU in the lead when her blast from inside of ten yards found
the nearside corner of the cage. Both teams went up and down during an action-packed overtime period. Sanson nearly scored for the Warriors in the 61st minute, but Distler made a huge save to preserve the tie. PSU pushed the ball downfield after solid stickhandling from junior Kate McPherson. She sent a ball to sophomore Kaitlyne Silva, whose drive from the top of the circle was redirected into the cage by Mezquita with just 56 seconds left in the frame.
Eastern hosts Bridgewater State University in a Little East Conference match Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Plymouth State Sports Information contributed to this game account.