Worcester, MA --- Worcester State senior Danielle Clifford (Attleboro, MA) snapped a scoreless tie in the 76th minute with the lone goal of the contest to help lead the top-seeded Lancers to a 1-0 triumph over #4 UMass-Boston this afternoon in the semifinals of the ECAC Division III New England Championship this afternoon at Coughlin Field.
The Lancers (14-5-2) will host #2 Keene State in the championship tomorrow at 12 PM. The Owls shutout sixth-seeded St. Joseph (Connecticut), 2-0, in the other semifinal. Keene State has won the ECAC crown in each of the last two seasons and in 2005. The Beacons wrap up their fine season at 14-7-2 overall.
UMass-Boston had a chance three minutes into the contest to put themselves ahead early when the second leading goal scorer in New England, Krista Ledin (Bridgewater, MA), was all alone 20 yards out, but she rushed the shot and it went wide to the right.
The Blue and Gold had opportunities later on in the period on a header in the 20th minute and a close range shot in the 32nd by senior Nikki Scott (Berlin, MA), but she was denied both times as the Beacon defense blocked the first bid and rejected the second for a team save.
In the closing seconds, WSU junior Mariah Messina (Tewksbury, MA) used her head on last ditch effort to get a shot off in the air, but her attempt hit the crossbar.
The visitors would claim the 7-6 edge in shots at the end of the opening frame.
UMass-Boston continued to stay on the offensive as they tested senior keeper Angieszaka Sychtysz (Warren, MA) early in the second period when first-year Brittany Castillo (Yarmouth, MA) had a shot on goal in the 56th minute and she missed again with an attempt that was wide left in the 63rd.
Play continued without a shot for the next 12 minutes until Clifford took advantage of a deflected shot off of a defender that went right to her and she hit home her team-leading eighth goal of the season on an unassisted tally 25 yards out.
The Lancers had a chance to extend the lead to two markers, but freshman Dani Perkins (Murrieta, CA) made a tremendous save to keep the game right where it was with six minutes remaining in regulation.
The Beacons would play up in the midfield, but could not get off an attempt in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Sychtysz collected three saves in her fifth shutout of the season while Perkins stopped four shots for UMass-Boston.
Both squads were even in shots (10-10) while WSU was ahead in corners, 5-2, as not one was tried by either team in the second half.
The Lancer back line did a tremendous job of shutting down Ledin who was limited to just two shots in the contest. She had 23 goals entering today's contest – including a hat-trick in their 3-1 triumph over fifth-seeded Endicott in the quarterfinals.
Clifford is now all alone in fourth on the all-time scoring list with 69 points (25 goals – 19 assists). Today's game winner was the eighth of her career.