BIDDEFORD — University of New England scored eight-consecutive goals after a rough start to the game, then held on during some tense moments in the second half to beat Plymouth State 18-12 in a non-conference women’s lacrosse game at the Big Blue Turf in Biddeford on Tuesday.

The Nor’easters started off with a flurry, as they won the opening draw and held possession in the attacking zone for much of the first three minutes of the game. UNE then got on the scoreboard first, as Hannah Warren scored just before the five-minute mark on a drive from the left.

But the game got away from the Nor’easters 10 minutes in, as Shannon Connerty tied the game 1-1 when she was left unmarked in the middle of the UNE defense.

Connerty scored again 33 seconds later off a pass from behind the net by Amy MacDonald, and then Kaitlyn Wilder scored the Panthers’ third goal in 61 seconds on a shot from the near right.

UNE head coach Sue Estabrook called a timeout to stop the bleeding, and it worked, as the Nor’easters scored the next eight goals to take a 9-3 lead with four minutes left in the first half.

“I wish I could remember what I said, because it must have been really good,” said Estabrook. “But I think they just really came together as one and picked it up.

“I think we were just starting off the game a little jittery, and we were just all over the place. We were letting them control the game in the beginning, and we just needed to take it back, and find our focus and play our game.”

Six different Nor’easters scored during the run, including two each from Warren and Hannah Tavella.

“We just kind of all took a deep breath and were like ”˜OK, we got this,’” said Tavella, who matched a career-high with eight goals. “Then, we started winning the draws, which is really key. We just started playing our game, and the shots were going in.”

Plymouth State scored two goals in the final 2:03 to cut the lead to four going into halftime. It was nearly cut to three, but a shot by Plymouth State’s Caroline Vonachen at the horn was waved off.

The Panthers scored a minute into the second half on a goal by Molly Gleason, but Tavella scored twice more to give the Nor’easters back some breathing room.

UNE’s room for error didn’t last long, however, as Plymouth State cut the lead back down to three with goals by Connerty and MacDonald, forcing Estabrook to call another timeout.

The Nor’easters had to try to regroup down two starters, as attacker Nikki Smith and key defender Johanna Currier both left the game with injuries.

“That was a scary moment,” Tavella said of Currier going down with a leg injury, which paused the game. “She’s a key player on our team.”

The Panthers sandwiched three goals around another Tavella goal to cut the lead to 12-11 with 17 minutes to play.

Warren emphatically turned the game back in UNE’s favor, as she won the ensuing draw and took it all the way to the net before firing a shot past Plymouth State goalie Casey Curran.

The Nor’easters scored five of the final six goals to pull away at the end.

“I think it shows that we have depth, for the first time in a long time, and that’s great. So people came in off the bench (and) stepped it up,” said Estabrook. “I think one of our hugest strengths is that they’re so loyal to each other that when somebody’s down, they actually fight harder and play harder and really want to bring it together more.”

UNE sophomore goalie Courtney Kendall did her part by shutting down the Panthers down the stretch, as she made 11 saves to earn the win.

“She played an awesome second half,” Estabrook said, calling Kendall’s performance “huge.”

The Nor’easters are off to a 3-0 start to the season, and will try to keep their perfect record intact when they travel to Brunswick on Thursday to take on nationally ranked Bowdoin.

Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.

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