CASTLETON, Vt. – Gabriella Hunt scored the game-winning goal in overtime to cap Castleton's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Worcester State in the Little East Conference field hockey tournament semifinals on Friday.
Castleton will meet Keene State in the LEC championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dave Wolk Stadium. The Owls downed Southern Maine, 3-1, in the second semifinal hosted by Castleton. The rematch comes seven days after the Spartans bested the Owls, 5-4, in double-overtime in Keene in the final game of the regular season.
Just past the 2:30 mark of overtime on a Spartan penalty corner, Cydney Jeffrey played an insert to Allison Lowell, who evaded a defender before firing a shot handled by Lancer goalkeeper, Jess Hopkins. On the rebound, Hunt attempted a pair of shots before the third rolled past the netminder and inside the post to end it.
Hunt's goal, her fifth in the tournament thus far, was her second overtime winner of the season. She scored the goal on Oct. 3 to defeat Fitchburg State on home turf. Hunt also picked up an assist on the first Castleton goal, when Sarah Wells scored her team-leading 18th goal of the season to knot the tilt at one. Hunt leads all players in the tournament with 11 points heading into the conference final.
Worcester State took the opening jab early in the first half when Olivia Antonelli cleaned up a loose ball under Spartan goalkeeper, Tashia Pashby-Rockwood, after Michaila Parent's shot resulted in a defensive save by Madison Langey. The Lancers continued to apply pressure throughout the first half but were unable to convert again despite going into the break with a 15-3 advantage in shots.
Worcester State was again the aggressor early in the second half, racking up four shots and a pair of penalty corners within the opening 2:37 of the frame. Pashby-Rockwood made two saves during the offensive to keep the deficit to just one.
The Spartans applied their best-sustained pressure of the contest over the ensuing four minutes leading to the equalizer. The stretch accounted for three shots and a couple of Castleton corners prior to the goal. The first Castleton score came when Hunt took advantage of an errant Lancer pass and corralled possession before outracing five different Worcester State and dishing a pass to Wells, who buried her shot from six yards out, to tie the contest at one with 16:29 remaining in regulation.
Just over a minute later, Worcester State celebrated a suspected go-ahead goal, again scored by Antonelli, but the goal was taken off the board and ruled a foul for the visitors to maintain the 1-1 deadlock.
The squads shared chances throughout the remainder of regulation, but neither side prevailed to send the game into the extra frame. Castleton took the final six shots of regulation as Hopkins came up with four saves and Cassidy Windler contributed a defensive save for the Lancers.
Hopkins made eight saves for Worcester State in the effort, while Pashby-Rockwood turned aside nine shots for the Spartans.