Plymouth State Set to Open the 2013 Season

PLYMOUTH, N.H. After several weeks of preseason training, Plymouth State University is set to open the season with a pair of games next week at Saint Joseph's College (Maine) and the University of New England.

The Panthers will meet St. Joe's on Thursday, Mar. 7, at Deering Memorial Stadium in Portland, and then face UNE on Saturday, Mar. 9, in Biddeford, Maine. The first five games of the season will be on the road as the Panthers travel to Castleton State College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and Wentworth Institute of Technology the second and third weeks of March.

The first two home games of the season, which are also the first Little East Conference contests, will be played on the turf at nearby Holderness School. PSU will host the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday, Mar. 30, and Salem State University on Saturday, Apr. 6, both games at 12:30 p.m.

The Panthers will play a 13-game slate this spring, including seven LEC match-ups. The annual LEC Tournament begins on Tuesday, Apr. 30, with the champion being crowned on May 5 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Plymouth State welcomes back 30 veterans to this year's squad, and with 10 seniors leading the way, fifth-year head coach Gordon Webb says this season is off to its best start in several years.

"We graduated only two guys from last year's team, our goalie and one middie," said Webb. "We return everyone else, and we have outstanding senior leadership. We're bringing back quality people at all positions."

PSU is coming off a 10-6 season in 2012, which included an eight-game winning streak, including seven in a row on the road. The Panthers dropped four straight LEC games in April and finished 3-4 in the conference.

"I feel that we made a real good step last year in improving our overall play," said Webb, "and we look forward to making a comparable or even better step this year. While we've improved, so has everyone else. The Little East has improved every year since I've been here. It's a very competitive league; we're going to be in a battle for seven games."

The one line-up opening from last year is the goalie position, and Webb says that freshman Bobby Noonan (Guilford, Conn.) could be in line for the starting position. Junior Jesse Kutz (Hopkinton, Mass.) and senior Shane Valeri (South Grafton, Mass.) have experience and will be ready to step in.

The defensive unit brings back three starters in junior Brandon Foley (Londonderry, N.H.) and seniors Paul McInerney (Scituate, Mass.) and Sean Allen (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy). Coach Webb says sophomore Nick Allard (Norwich, Conn.) has really improved and will see playing time. Also bolstering the defense is sophomore long-stick middie Scott Pelligrinelli (Glastonbury, Conn.), while freshman Ryan Garland (Franklin, Mass.) has been an impressive newcomer.

Coach Webb says the Panthers have two solid midfield lines with experienced veterans. Seniors Mike Ventura (Columbia, N.J./North Warren Regional), Stephen Patch (Newbury, N.H./Kearsarge), Shawn McEvoy (Spring, Texas) and Ty Long (Dover, N.H./ Dover) will work with sophomores Aaron Boss (Keene, N.H.) and C.J. Frates (Merrimack, N.H.) to form a potent unit. Long scored 27 goals for PSU a year ago and Patched collected a team-high 28 assists.

The midfield contingent will also include sophomore defensive players Andrew Finocchio (Wakefield, Mass.) and Andy Ripley (South Paris, Maine/Oxford Hills), senior Devon Smith (Plattekill, N.Y./Wallkill Senior) and freshman Jake Pleadwell (Newfield, N.H./Exeter), a former goalie. Smith and junior Scott Giusti (West Newton, Mass./Newton North) are top face-off men.

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2013-03-01



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