Keene State in LEC Tournament Action
KEENE, N.H., 11/2/07 - Three Keene State teams remain alive in their respective Little East Conference tournaments. Both Keene State field hockey and men’s soccer will play in LEC championship games on Saturday, and the Owl women’s volleyball team will host both semifinal and finals of the LEC tournament for the first time.
In Friday’s women’s volleyball semifinals at Spaulding Gym, the top-seed Owls (24-10) will face fifth-seed Eastern Connecticut (ECSU) (9-26) at 6 p.m. Second-seed Western Connecticut (18-11) will take on third-seed Plymouth State (20-10) at 4 p.m. The two semifinal winners will play in Saturday’s championship match at noon.
KSC will be facing the Warriors for the third time this season. The Owls defeated ECSU (3-0) at the Endicott Tournament and later in the season (3-1) in LEC play. “You’re always nervous about playing a team that you’ve beaten twice during the season because they have nothing to lose,” said KSC Coach Bob Weiner. “They’re a tough team. They are very aggressive defensively, and we’re going to play a great match to beat them.”
The Owls haven’t faired well against the Warriors in recent tournament action. In 2005, the Warriors swept the Owls 3-0 in the finals. Last season, ECSU defeated KSC 3-0 in the semifinal round.
On Saturday, the top-seed Keene State field hockey team (17-5) will battle second-seed Southern Maine (15-6) for the LEC championship at the Owl Athletic Complex (1 p.m.).
Karen Robinson sent KSC to the finals. The sophomore forward scored on a corner play with no time remaining in regulation to give KSC a dramatic 3-2 victory over fourth-seed Bridgewater State College in Thursday’s semifinal game. The three-time defending champion Owls, flying high with an eight-game winning streak, will be shooting for their sixth LEC title.
The University of Southern Maine (USM) advanced to the finals with a 3-2 overtime win over third-seed Plymouth State. Junior forward Alyssa Kraus scored the game-winner for the Huskies, who reach the finals for the first time since 2003. USM earned their lone LEC title in 2003 with a 3-1 upset win over KSC. The two teams met earlier this season in Gorham with KSC winning 3-2 on Robinson’s double overtime goal.
“It’s going to be another tough game,” said KSC Coach Amy Watson. “Traditionally, they play pretty well on turf for a grass team. I knew games would tighten up in the conference tournament. There are too many good teams.”
The Keene State men’s soccer team will continue their quest for the LEC championship on the road at ECSU on Sunday (10 a.m.). The third-seed Owls (11-4-4), undefeated in their last 11 games (9-0-2), advanced to the finals with a 2-1 semifinal win at USM. Freshman Matt Johnson snapped a 1-1 tie with six minutes left in regulation time to give KSC the victory.
The top-seed Warriors will be making their first-ever appearance in the championship game. Sophomore forward Maxim Fantl’s early goal was the difference as the Warriors advanced to the championship game with a 1-0 semifinal round win over Rhode Island College.
It’s the second year in a row the Owls have played in the championship game on the road. Last season, KSC defeated the Panthers 3-0 in Plymouth. “We’re used to being on the road for the LEC championship game. We haven’t made it easy for ourselves over the years,” said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. “They don’t give up many goals. We have to find a way to get the ball into the net. But in tournament play, it always comes down to defense.”
The Owls and Warriors battled to a 1-1 tie earlier this season at Thomas Nevers Field in Willimantic, Connecticut. The defending tournament champion Owls also claimed LEC titles in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2004.