WESTFIELD, Mass. – Tournament MVP Nicole Chretien (North Attleboro, Mass.) scored one goal and assisted on another to lead Westfield State University to the MASCAC Championship with a 3-0 win over Salem State University at Alumni Field on Sunday afternoon.
Third-seeded Westfield wins its second straight league championship and its' seventh since 2008. The Owls (10-6-3) will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament.
Chretien scored what proved to be the game winner in the first half, as she volleyed in a Jenn Rennich (Bedford, Mass.) corner kick in the ninth minute of the game to give Westfield a 1-0 lead.
The Owls took the 1-0 lead into the halftime.
Westfield tallied again in the 68th minute, this time with Chretien carrying the ball down the right side of the field and sending a cross to freshman Madison Dufries (Lecester, Mass.), who found the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Owls sealed the win with a goal from Rennich in the 77th minute, as she ran onto a through ball from Juliana Templeman (East Longmeadow, Mass.) to give the Owls a 3-0 lead.
Westfield got a strong defensive effort from its back four of Gianna Moncecchi (Wahconah/Windsor, Mass.), Ashley Zink (Wahconah/Dalton, Mass.), Casey Rotti (Wachusset/Rutland, Mass.) and Cate Plante (Monson, Mass.), as the Owls limited Salem to mostly perimeter shots. Owls' senior goalkeeper Natalia Falcone (Sutton, Mass.) finished with seven saves.
Salem (6-11-2) got seven saves from goalkeeper Amanda Backe (Danvers, Mass.), Taylor Capozzi (St. Mary's /Lynn, Mass.) got off five shots for Salem including a pair of blasts from the right side that were saved by Falcone that represented the Vikings best chances to score.
Fifth-seeded Salem had entered the championship game via a 3-0 win at #4 Framingham in the quarterfinal round and a 1-1 draw at top-seeded Worcester, in which the Vikings prevailed 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout. Salem shared the league's regular season title most recently in 2004, but the Vikings have never won the league's tournament title since the tourney began in 2000.
Westfield had advanced to the title game via a 2-1 win over #6 Fitchburg State in the quarterfinal round, and a 2-1 triumph at #2 Bridgewater in the semifinals.
The Owls will now await their seeding and matchup in the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced on Monday on an NCAA.com selection show online, which begins at 1:30 p.m.