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LEC Championship Game: KSC Hosts Western Conn.

KEENE, N.H. 11/6/03 - The Keene State College men’s soccer team is one win away from capturing its fourth Little East Conference championship (third straight) and earning its sixth NCAA Division III Tournament berth in the last seven years. The Owls can accomplish that goal with a victory over Western Connecticut State University in the LEC title game, scheduled for Saturday (3 p.m.) at Owl Athletic Complex.

Saturday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s championship when fourth- seeded Keene State edged top seed WSCU 1-0 on a late first-half goal by Casey Banks. Ironically, Western Conn. is seeded fourth this season.

"Technically they’re a very strong team with tremendous speed," said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. "We’re going to have our hands full keeping them in check."

Seeded second in the tournament, Keene State (14-5-1) advanced to the championship game with 2-0 win over third-seeded Rhode Island College on Wednesday. After a pair of quick first-half goals by Jason Lombardo and Justin Hickman, the Owls had to weather the storm when senior defender Steve Curry was issued a red card, forcing KSC to play a man-down for most of the second half.

In addition to losing Curry for the championship, KSC might not have the services of its top scorer Lombardo (15-8-38), who pulled up with a hamstring injury early in the contest. "We’re not going to have a full complement of players, so some players are going to have to step up and fill the void," Butcher said. "When you get to tournament play, strange things happen."

Western Conn. (12-5-4) scored a pair of second-half goals Wednesday evening and went on to upset top-seeded Plymouth State University in the other semifinal contest. David Forero (11-7-29) tops the Colonials in scoring.

Owners of a seven game winning streak, Keene State and Western Conn. battled to a 1-1 stalemate earlier this season in Keene.

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