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Owls Set for Little East Tournament Play

KEENE, N.H., 4/30/07 - Just completing what turned out to be an abbreviated spring sports season, three Keene State College teams will begin what they hope will be an extended stay in their respective Little East Conference tournaments that get under way this week.

The KSC women’s lacrosse team gets things rolling when they host Rhode Island College (RIC) in a quarterfinal game at Owl Athletic Complex on Tuesday night (6 p.m.).

The third seed in the tournament, the Owls (7-5, 4-2 LEC), under first-year coach Michelle Mason, will be looking for their first LEC title. “We’ve had a rocky road this season, so it’s important for us to come out focused and ready to play,” said Mason. “We played well against Rhode Island earlier this season and that should give us some confidence going into the game.”

Winners of two straight, Keene State defeated the Anchorwomen 9-5 earlier this season in Keene. RIC (3-10, 1-5 LEC) dropped to the sixth seed with its 11-9 loss to Southern Maine (USM) on Sunday. Fourth-seed Southern Maine will face fifth-seed UMass Dartmouth (UMD) in the other quarterfinal game. Tuesday’s winners will move on to Friday’s semifinal round. The winner of the KSC/RIC game plays second-seed Plymouth State and the USM/UMD winner takes on top-seed Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU). ECSU will host the final two rounds of the tournament.

The Owls, who lost in the semifinals to ECSU (11-4) last spring, advanced to the 2004 finals, losing to Plymouth State (9-5).

Earning a bye in the first-round, the top-seed Keene State College men’s lacrosse team (13-0, 6-0 LEC) gets back into action on Thursday (TBA). The Owls will go up against the winner of the number four UMass Boston and number five Plymouth State in a semifinal game.

The Owls will be looking to continue their historic season that has seen them tie the program record for wins and set a new mark for consecutive victories. “We’re pleased with our accomplishments during the regular season, but everyone starts the tournament with a 0-0 record,” said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. “We can’t rely on our past results to carry us to the championship.”

Second-seed ECSU will face the winner of the number three Western Connecticut State/number six UMass Dartmouth game in the other semifinal contest. The championship game will be played on Saturday at the highest remaining seed.

The Owls, who moved up to 17th place in this week’s national poll, have faced ECSU in the last four LEC finals. Keene State won the 2005 championship with an 11-4 win over the Warriors.

For the third year in a row, the KSC women’s softball team will head to Rhode Island College for the six-team, double-elimination LEC tournament. The second-seed Owls (25-5, 10-4 LEC) play fifth-seed Southern Maine in an opening round game on Thursday (12 p.m.).

KSC Coach Charlie Beach said the tournament is up for grabs. “The parody in the LEC is remarkable,” he said. “We split with top seed (RIC) and got swept by the fourth seed (ECSU), so anything can happen.”

Number four Western Connecticut State and number six Plymouth State round-out the tournament field.

Last season, RIC captured its first LEC title.

Keene State claimed the LEC championship in 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2005.

LEC tournament play is also on the horizon for the Keene State baseball team. Keene State (25-9, 11-1 LEC) will need to sweep front-runner Eastern Connecticut State (26-8, 12-0 LEC) in Saturday’s season-ending twinbill to bring the tournament to the Owl Athletic Complex for the first time. “I like where we’re sitting right now,” said KSC Coach Ken Howe. “We have Eastern Connecticut coming here on Saturday. You can’t ask for anymore - the two top teams battling for the regular season title.”

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435