WORCESTER, Mass. -- Worcester State University captured the 2016 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Women's Soccer Tournament title as junior Ashleigh Howland (Wilmington, Mass.) scored a late game-winner to lift the top-seeded Lancers to a 2-1 victory over #3 seeded Bridgewater State University on Sunday afternoon.
The Lancers (9-6-2) earned their seventh conference tournament championship (first since 2014) and will advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The NCAA Division III women's soccer selection show is scheduled for Monday at 1:30 PM.
The Bears wrap up the 2016 campaign with an overall record of 7-6-6.
After an uneventful first half, the Lancers capitalized on a free kick opportunity in the 47th minute when senior defender, Nicole Parenteau (Chicopee, Mass.) arched the ball into the goal box. Jenna Martin (Salem, NH) picked up the loose ball after it deflected of the Bridgewater keeper and slipped shot into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Bears knotted the score at 1-1 in the 61st minute on a 45-yard direct kick. Bridgewater's Molly Sheild (Mansfield, Mass.) soared the ball in the air, slipping into the top center of the net over the head of the Worcester State keeper. This was the first goal of the season that Vanessa O'Donnell (Worcester, Mass.) let up against conference opponents.
Bridgewater nearly took the lead in the 76th minute when Taylor Loyd (Halifax, Mass.) ripped the ball of the right post with a shot from the left side. Worcester State's defenders cleared the ball to maintain the tie score.
It wasn't until the 86th minute that Worcester potted the go-ahead goal. Nikki DiPilla (Sterling, Mass.) wrapped the ball around her defender and passed the ball ahead to Howland who beat her defender and fired the ball in the net for the 2-1 score
Worcester State's keeper O'Donnell registered a five-save performance in net, while Bridgewater's Lauren DeSousa (Taunton, Mass.) recorded three saves in the 90 minutes played.
Bridgewater State held a 16-13 shot advantage as well as a 7-2 edge in corner kicks.