BOSTON, Mass.—After 18 years, UMass Boston women's soccer can finally claim their first championship. The Beacons (16-2, 6-1 Little East Conference) earned their first ever Little East Conference Regular Season Championship Saturday, as the downed Plymouth State University (2-15, 0-7 LEC) by an 8-1 score on Senior Day at the Clark Athletic Field.
The Beacons are co-Regular Season Champions with Eastern Connecticut State University but earned the top spot in next week's LEC Tournament because of their win over the Warriors. UMass Boston will host the winner of UMass Dartmouth and Keene State on Thursday afternoon.
With the win UMass Boston set a program-record for conference seasons with six and set a new program mark for goals in a season with 65.
Forwards Tayla Andrews (Plymouth, Mass.) and Krista Ledin (Bridgewater, Mass.) ensured that their three senior captains would go out with a win, as each player finished with a hat trick and an assist. Andrews became the third player in program history to reach the 100 point mark early in the second half, when she finished off her hat trick at the 54:06 mark.
Seniors Brittney Spencer (West Brookfield, Mass.), Meghan O'Connell (Abington, Mass.) and Anna O'Donoghue (Swansea, Mass.) were honored before the game. O'Connell finished with a career-high four points (one goal and two assists), while Spencer picked up her first point of the season, with an assist in the first half.
All three Beacons goalkeepers saw action, with freshman Kristen Spain (Quincy, Mass.) picking up her 15th win of the season by making two stops. Spain set the new single-season mark for wins in a season with the victory, and tied Dani Perkins (Murieta, Calif.) for the career wins mark.
The first 10 minutes of the game proved to be highly contested, with the Panthers going blow for blow with the top-seeded Beacons. UMass Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 6:40 mark, when O'Connell sent a cross into the box and Ledin headed it home.
Plymouth State would return the favor less than three minutes later, when Laura Davis scored her second goal of the season on a header off a corner. It would be all Beacons after that point, as UMass Boston scored the final seven markers.
Nutting gave the Beacons the lead 53 seconds after the Plymouth State goal with her first goal of the season. She received a pass in the box from Andrews and sent a low shot through the legs of the defender and goalkeeper Hannah Kimball.
Kimball had a strong day in net despite the scoreboard, as she made 11 saves on the day.
After six scoreless minutes, Andrews increased the Beacons lead to 3-1 when she took a pass from Nutting and sent the ball trickling by Kimball for her career-high 17th goal of the season.
Ledin would finish off her eight career hat trick with two goals over the next 12 minutes. She made it 4-1 when she took a through ball from Spencer up the far sideline and sent a hard line drive shot by Kimball. She would cap off her day with a goal at the 28:13 mark, when she took a pass from Cristoforo in the box and sent a low shot across the goalmouth.
With the seven points, Ledin now has 61 on the season, a new Little East Conference record for a single season. The sophomore also increased her career points total to 111, just four points shy of Kristin Mulry for first all-time.
But the offensive records would belong to Andrews. She finished off the first-half scoring with a goal at 31:47, when she took a through ball from Cristoforo and dribbled by Kimball to make it 6-1.
She wouldn't have to wait long to reach the 100 point plateau, as she headed home a cross from O'Connell 10 minutes into the second half to join Ledin and Mulry in the 100-Point Club. Andrews has 101 points for her career and has already set career-highs with 19 goals, 10 assists and 48 points this season.
O'Connell would finish off the Beacons fireworks at the 55:15 mark, when she took a cross from Ledin and headed it home on the far post.
With the score well out of hand, the Beacons were able to play every single player on the roster, with the team's reserves creating plenty of chances over the final 30 minutes.
The Beacons outshot the Panthers by a 33-12 margin and had a 9-4 edge on corner kicks.
UMass Boston will await the winner of Tuesday's matchup between UMass Dartmouth and Keene State, with the winner traveling to the Clark Athletic Field for the Little East Conference Semifinals on Thursday November 1.