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Keene State Men's Soccer and Women's Field Hockey Teams Earn NCAA Tournament Berths

KEENE, N.H., 11/5/07 - Keene State College men’s soccer and women’s field hockey teams have earned berths to their respective NCAA Division III championship tournaments.

The KSC men’s soccer team will host both first and second-round games this weekend at the Owl Athletic Complex. On Saturday, the Owls will face York College of New York at 11 a.m. Williams College will take on Eastern Connecticut in the second game 40 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The two winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Keene State field hockey team will travel to Geneva, N.Y., on Wednesday for a first-round game against William Smith College at 4 p.m. The winner of Wednesday’s game will face the College of New Jersey (16-2) in the second round.

The Keene State men’s soccer team (14-4-5) will be making its ninth trip to the NCAA Division III tournament in the past 11 years. The Owls earned an at- large bid to the championship after battling Eastern Connecticut to a 0-0 tie and losing 3-2 in penalty kicks in the Little East Championship game on Sunday.

KSC Coach Ron Butcher said the team’s strong out-of-conference schedule had a major bearing on the Owls’ NCAA invitation. “Whenever you don’t get the automatic qualifier, you have to worry,” he said, “But we had a lot of things working in our favor.”

In addition to posting key wins over national powers Middlebury and Williams, KSC also had victory over Western New England and a tie against Wheaton College, both NCAA participants. It didn’t hurt that the Owls went 9-0-3 down the stretch.

However, there was still some suspense when several team members gathered to watch the selection show.

“I was so nervous, I couldn’t go to class this morning,” said junior forward Alex Horne. “We were all pretty excited. We’re so happy that we were given this bid. We deserve it.”

“My heart was jumping,” said senior goalie Cal Mintz. “I didn’t want the game against Eastern Connecticut to be my last. Now we have another chance.”

“We’ve had our ups and downs this year with this team,” said Butcher. “It hasn’t been pretty at times, but this team has found a way to win.”

The Owls, which have received three at-large bids, will be looking to get beyond the second round. Williams has been the roadblock for the Owls over the years. After winning a first-round game against Lasell (2-0) last season, the Owls were shutout by the by the Ephs 3-0 in Williamstown.

York College (14-5-1) is making its third appearance in the tournament. The Cardinals, who defeated College of Staten Island 3-0 in the CUNYAC finals, also earned bids in 2000 and 2001. York has just two seniors on its roster.

The Keene State women’s field hockey team (18-5) is making its fifth overall and fourth consecutive tip to the NCAAs. The Owls, who have been unable to advance past the first round, have drawn another tough opponent.

“We don’t get the strength of schedule point like the teams in the NESCAC and NEWMAC, so they usually send us on the road against some of the powerhouse teams,” said KSC Coach Amy Watson. “I don’t know that much about William Smith, except its great reputation. “Hopefully, we can go up there and give them a game.”

Last season, KSC lost a first-round game to Wellesley College 6-0.

Keene State earned the LEC’s automatic berth with a 2-1 overtime victory against Southern Maine. Sophomore midfielder Erin Dallas (Marlow, N.H.) netted both Owl goals, including the game-winner.

William Smith (15-4) earned an automatic bid into its 18th NCAA tournament by capturing the Liberty League Championship on Saturday, 2-1 in overtime against Skidmore.

This won’t be the first trip to Geneva for several members of the KSC team. Last year, a group of players traveled to upstate New York to see former teammate Sarah Joyce play in a senior all-star game. “It’s a great facility,” said junior back Alyssa Rowell (Queensbury, N.Y.). “We’re looking forward to the game.”

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