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Three Owl Teams Earn Postseason Berths

KEENE, N.H., 5/7/07 - Three Keene State College spring teams are headed to postseason tournaments. Both men’s lacrosse and women’s softball teams have earned NCAA tournament berths and the women’s lacrosse team has been selected to play in the ECAC New England Tournament.

Earning its second NCAA berth in the past three years, the 17th-ranked KSC men’s lacrosse team (15-0) will host the United States Merchant Marine Academy (13-3) of Kings Point, New York, in a first-round game at the Owl Athletic Complex on Wednesday (4 p.m.).

The Owls earned the bid by defeating Eastern Connecticut State 18-6 in the championship game of the Little East Conference (LEC) Tournament. The Mariners of Merchant Marine Academy captured its first-ever NCAA bid with a 12-11 upset win over top-seed Stevens Institute of Technology in the finals of the Skyline Conference Tournament.

“Everyone is pumped to have a first-round home game,” said Keene State goalie Matt Johnson. “It’s tough playing a team you’ve never faced, but I’m sure coach (Mark Theriault) will put together a good game plan.”

“I’m really pleased with our draw,” said Theriault. “If we prepare well and have a couple of good days of practice, we should be fine.”

In their only previous NCAA appearance in 2005, the Owls lost a first-round game to Endicott College (11-10).

No stranger to NCAA play, the Keene State softball team will be making its sixth overall appearance and its fifth trip to the Division III Tournament in the past nine years. The fourth seed in the eight-team double-elimination tournament, the Owls (27-7) will face fifth-seed Endicott College (30-10) in an opening-round game at host and top-seed Rhode Island College (RIC) in Providence on Thursday (12 p.m.).

The Owls, who were eliminated in the LEC Tournament by RIC, received an at- large berth to the NCAA Championship. After sending the Owls home, RIC won two straight from Western Connecticut State to capture the LEC title and in the process helped KSC secure the at-large bid. “They hurt us, and then helped us,” said KSC Coach Charlie Beach. “If you don’t win the LECs and can get an at-large bid, it’s a very positive experience.”

Endicott claimed its fifth straight Commonwealth Coast Conference Championship with an 8-0 victory over Roger Williams University.

“We can be competitive with all the teams in the tournament,” Beach added. “As far as I can see, there’s no dominant team in the tournament.”

The Owls earned a berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament in 1994 and went to the Division III Tournament in 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2005 tournaments. They reached the regional finals in 1999, 2003, and 2005.

The Keene State women’s lacrosse team (8-6) will be the fifth seed in the six- team ECAC Tournament. The Owls will travel to Worcester State on Wednesday night for an opening-round game against the Lancers (11-4), scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Owls dropped an LEC semifinals game to rival Plymouth State (12-2). Worcester State lost to Western New England 14-10 in the championship game of the NEWLA Tournament.

“Everyone is excited that we’re going to keep playing,” said KSC Coach Michelle Mason. “We’re just going to go out and have fun and see how far we can go.”

This will be Keene State’s fourth trip to the ECAC Tournament. They won the 2004 championship with a 17-16 overtime win against Eastern Connecticut State.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435