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Owl Soccer Women Head to Europe

August 13, 2009

KEENE, N.H. 8/10/09 - The Keene State women's soccer team will get a head start on its pre-season training with a trip to Europe.

The Owls left Monday afternoon for a nine-day expedition to Spain and France, where they will practice and play three games against club teams. "Everybody is really looking forward to the trip," said KSC Coach Dense Lyons. "It will be a great experience for the players, both from a soccer point of view and culturally."

"It's a great opportunity," said Katie Bradford, a junior forward from Lebanon, N.H. "The majority of players, including myself, haven't been overseas, so we're really excited."

Keene State is taking advantage of an opportunity that allows NCAA teams to travel abroad every four years. Money for the trip came from the team's alumni budget and fund-raising. Seniors Jackie Grant, a back from Newington, Conn., and Molly Brunelle, a midfielder from Walpole, N.H., approached Lyons about the trip last year. "We thought it was a shot in the dark, but here we are," said Grant, who did a lot of the leg work to make the trip a reality.

The tour group, consisting of 18 upperclassmen and two coaches, will get a chance to mix business with pleasure. In addition to practicing, the team will see the sites in Barcelona and the cities of Niece and Cannes in southern France. "I think we're going to get blown away," said Brunelle. "We're just so excited to experience it together."

While Lyons hopes her players enjoy the attractions, she also would like to get some work done on the field. "I want to try some players at new positions," she said. "This will give me an opportunity to experiment with the line-up before we get home."

A veteran of international play, Lyons knows her players will have their hands full going up against the aggressive-minded Europeans. "It's a lot more physical over there," said Lyons who played on the Irish National Team before becoming an All-American at Keene State. "They go hard for every ball, while the players here are a little bit more finesse. Even though it's a practice game, they'll play like it's the World Cup."

The Owls, who begin their pre-season when they return, hope the trip is the precursor to a successful season. "I think it's going to be an awesome year for us," said Grant. "The games are just for fun.

Hopefully, we can stay healthy, get some touches on the ball, and see what the Europeans have in store for us."

Keene State opens its season at home against New England College on Wednesday, Sept. 2.