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Alumni at Keene State Announce 2013 Hall of Fame Inductees

March 26, 2013

Keene State College has announced its 2013 Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. The honored athletes are Osvaldo Molina ’93, men’s soccer; Seanna Matthews Lombardo ’99, women’s swimming; Kelly Smith ’01, field hockey; Joe Branciforte ’04, men’s lacrosse; and the 1983 women’s soccer team.

The induction ceremony and dinner will take place Saturday, June 8, at 6 p.m. at the Zorn Dining Commons on the Keene State campus. Tickets to the induction ceremony and dinner are $35 per person. For tickets and more information, please contact the KSC Athletics Department at 358-2813.

He might be the 13th men’s soccer player to be inducted into the KSC Hall of Fame, but there was nothing unlucky about Osvaldo Molina’s Owl soccer career. Originally from Montreal, Molina was a member of Keene State’s infamous “Montreal Connection,” a group of talented players who came down from Canada to play for the Owls during their Division II era, playing in the highly competitive New England Collegiate Conference. Molina played three seasons at Keene State (1990-92), not only directing the defense from his center back position, but contributing offensively, finishing his career with 12 goals, 10 assists and 34 points. As a junior, he earned All-America, All-New England and All-NECC honors, leading the Owls to an NCAA tournament berth.

A native of Wilbraham, Mass., Seanna Matthews Lombardo, the third women’s swimmer inducted into the KSC Hall of Fame, put the sprint back into the Owl women’s swim team. A versatile swimmer who also competed in back stroke and individual medley races, Lombardo set school records in the 50 free, 50 back and 100 I.M. during her four-year (1995-99) career. Lombardo not only helped the Owls post an impressive 58-12-1 dual meet record during her tenure, including a perfect 20-0 mark as a senior, she also put Keene State on the swim map in New England. A four-time qualifier to the NEISDA championships, Lombardo earned All-New England honors twice, placing seventh in the 100 I.M. and 50 back as a junior and senior respectively. As a junior, also earned All-ECAC Division III honors in the 100 free and became the first Owl in 10 years to qualify for ECAC Open championship. As a senior, Lombardo led the Owls a very-respectable 14th- place finish at the NEWISA meet and posted an NCAA B cut time in the 50 free.

A prolific scorer during Keene State’s inaugural years in the Little East Conference, Kelly Smith becomes the fifth field hockey player to be inducted into the KSC Hall of Fame. Originally from the small town of Lisbon, N.H, Smith went from a walk-on to a big-time player for the Owls. Kelly filled the net with numerous honors during her four-year (1997-2000) career. Selected as a second-team All-American and Little East player of the year as a junior and senior, she was a two-time first-team All-Region and three-time All-LEC first-team forward. At the conclusion of her career, she was second in goals (51), first in assists (37) and second in points (139) on the program’s all-time list. Smith was a member of two LEC championship teams in 1998 and 1999. Her sophomore team earned an NCAA championship berth with her freshman and senior squads participated in ECAC tournaments.

Joe Branciforte has the distinction of becoming the first Owl men’s lacrosse player to be inducted in the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. Small in stature but possessing a huge heart, the Cromwell, Conn., native used his speed and cunning to slice and dice his way around opposing attackers and become a major offensive weapon for Keene State during his four-year (2001-04) career. Joining the Owls as they began their move up the LEC lacrosse ladder, Branciforte was a three-time All-LEC forward, culminating his career by being named the LEC offensive player of the year as a senior. Helping the Owls to reach the LEC finals in his finals two seasons and ECAC tournament berths from 2002-05, Branciforte concluded his career first in assists (74) and second in goals (125) and points (199) on KSC’s all-time list. Playing in an era when division classification was far less structured than today, the 1983 Keene State women’s soccer team, under the leadership of KSC Hall of Fame Coach Dave Lombardo, earned the programs’ first-ever berth to the NCAA tournament. A close and cohesive team loaded with talented and hard-working players, the 1983 Owls team was on a mission to reach the national tournament. Beating Brown (1-0) to start the season, it would be the first of many marquee wins for KSC that included victories over the University of New Hampshire (3-0), Holy Cross (10-0), Harvard (3-1) and Williams College (5-0).

Ranked 11th out 20 teams in a combined Division I-II post-season poll, the Owls earned a trip to the NCAA tournament, losing to Brown (1-0) in a first-round game played during a snowstorm. Finishing the season with a fine 12-2-2 record, the Owls were led by All-American Laurie St. Pierre, who had 20 goals and 47 points, and goalie Marcia Pansuk, who had a 0.71 GAA and six shutouts.

With the addition of the four inductees and team, the KSC Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame will include 98 individual members and 16 teams.