CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Lesley University women's soccer team has been crowned New England Collegiate Conference Champions for the fourth straight season and the fifth time in program history following a 1-0 win over second-seeded Elms College in the NECC Finals match today at Edward Field.
The win earns the Lynx the conference automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will find out their opponent Monday, November 9th at 1:00p during the Live Selection Show.
This marks the third consecutive season that the Lynx have defeated the Blazers in the Conference Championship match as they move to 5-3 in NECC title games in program history. Elms finishes their run with a record of 16-4-1 and will await on a possible postseason bid to be announced this week.
Lynx freshman Samantha Bessey (Algonquin, Ill.) scored the only goal of the match in the 39th minute of play to provide the offense for the hosts. The rookie forward was able to beat her defender to a ball crossed into the box by senior Samantha Rapant (Pittsfield, Mass.) and nod in a header inside the right post for her seventh goal of the season.
The goal came on Lesley's lone shot of the opening half as the Blazers kept the majority of possession and outshot their hosts 4-1 while also holding a 4-1 edge in corner kick opportunities throughout the first.
Blazers senior Lyndsey Oppenheimer (Easthampton, Mass.) had one of the best chances for the visitors in the sixteenth minute when she unleashed a rocket from the left side of the box, but her attempt sailed high of the cage. Elms had an opportunity to strike again with consecutive corner kicks in the 33rd minute, but Lesley's defense held strong to clear both attempts.
After the break, the possession flipped to the Lynx who fired four shots in the first six minutes of play. The Lynx threatened to take a 2-0 lead with a corner kick in the 51st minute, but Karlie Rubin's (San Diego, Calif.) drive from the top of the box went wide of the cage. The play was kept alive when the rebound was corralled by Rapant. Rapant then sent a right-footed charge that sailed right.
Just three minutes later, Elms answered with another scoring chance of their own. Sophomore Angelina Estrada (Springfield, Mass.) gathered a bouncing ball a step inside the Lesley box and sent a drive that was blocked by Lynx sophomore keeper Lilly Donovan (Newburyport, Mass.). Estrada raced and beat her defender to the rebound but Donovan was there once again to smother Estrada's chance off the rebound and keep the Blazers scoreless.
Donovan was excellent in between the pipes for the Lynx, making four saves to record her third shutout of the season and improve to 10-1-0 on the season. Her counterpart Alex Rinaudo (Bellmore, N.Y.) was strong for the visitors as she made three stops while suffering the loss.
Lesley senior defender Hayley Wirth (Escondido, Calif.) was named Tournament MVP for the second time in her career. Wirth also earned the honors following the 2013 title.
2015 ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Karina Meza, Southern Vermont College
Abigail Rosas, Southern Vermont College
Alison Mosdale, Becker College
Meghan Bealka, Becker College
Jackie Soucia, Elms College
Rachel Mick, Elms College
Brie Voight, Elms College
Silvana Telllerico, Elms College
Jordan Mitchell, Lesley University
McKenna Straube, Lesley University
Jennifer Collins, Lesley University
Hayley Wirth, Lesley University
2015 NECC Tournament MVP: Hayley Wirth, Lesley University