(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.)- Hannah Landerholm (Edmonds, Wash.) headed home a cross from Veronica Halen (San Diego, Calif.) with 1:49 remaining in regulation propelling top-seeded Lesley University past No. 2 seed Regis College 1-0 in the championship game of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) tournament on Sunday afternoon in Cambridge, Mass. With the victory the Lynx earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship Tournament slated to begin on Nov. 8 and 10-11.
Lesley controlled the flow of the game from start to finish but it would be the stubborn defense of Regis that kept the game scoreless in the first half, blocking several shots and contesting every ball in their offensive zone. Pride goalie Rachel Gagnon (Ashford, Conn.) was equally up to the task finishing with five first half saves. Lesley's best opportunity came midway through the half when an Alexis Giusti (Meridan, Calif.) shot rang off the cross bar.
While the Lesley offense continued to put the ball on net, the defense held steady holding Regis to just one shot in the first half and zero shots in the second half.
The Lynx offense began to rally as the minutes ticked by in the second half. Halen earned the first scoring chance of the half, beating Gagnon to a loose ball at the top of the box, sliding to tip it by her only to see a Pride defender clear the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
Hayley Wirth (Escondido, Calif.) nearly put the Lynx ahead in the 71st minute heading a cross just over the goal as the game remained scoreless. Lesley's hardwork finally paid off in the final minutes with Landerholm heading the ball past Gagnon (10 saves overall) sending Lynx fans everywhere into a frenzy as they would wait out the final seconds to secure the conference championship and a birth in the NCAA tournament.
The Lynx will now await their seeding in the NCAA tournament which will be announced during the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Selection show tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 pm. The show will be webcast live at http://www.ncaa.com/sports/soccer-women/d3 and shown in the Student Center on Doble Campus at Lesley.
The following players were chosen for the NECC Women's Soccer All-Tournament team:
MVP-Hannah Landerholm (Lesley University)
Shannon Simonelli (Regis College)
Rachel Gagnon (Regis College)
Leah Spring (Elms College)
Marissa Yowell (Elms College)