KEENE, N.H.--The NCAA Field Hockey tournament is returning to Keene State College. The Owls, fresh off their sixth consecutive Little East Conference tournament championship, will host New Paltz State (N.Y.) at 3 p.m. on November 7 at Owl Athletic Complex in the first round of the tournament.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students with ID and senior citizens. Those unable to attend the game will be able to watch a free live stream of the event at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/keene.
Keene State (17-6) is in the NCAA tournament for the 11th time overall, and sixth consecutive time. KSC has reached the second round in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Keene State returned to the NCAA tournament with a 2-1 win over top-seeded Castleton University in the LEC Championship final on November 4. Ally McCall was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, leading the KSC defense that allowed just two goals in three games.
New Paltz State earned its bid to the NCAA tournament by defeating the last two SUNYAC champions, Geneseo and Cortland, in the SUNYAC tournament. The Hawks knocked off Geneseo 3-2 in the semifinals, followed by a dramatic come-from-behind win over Cortland in the final. This is the fifth appearance in the NCAA tournament for New Paltz, which also qualified from 2012-15.
KSC head coach Amy Watson is in her 28th season on the KSC bench, and has led the Owls to LEC titles in 1998, 1999, 2004-08, 2011, and 2013-18. New Paltz bench boss Shanna Szablinski is in her 10th season with the Hawks, having led New Paltz to four straight SUNYAC titles from 2012-15 and was named the National Division III Coach of the Year in 2012.
The Owls' offense continues to be boosted by the sophomore forward pairing of Nina Bruno (30 goals, nine assists, 69 points) and Kayla Klein (24-3-51) up front. Senior Julia Babbitt (11-10-32), junior Ally McCall (3-13-19), senior Erica Stauffer (6-7-19), and junior Kelsey Roberts (6-2-14) can also find the back of the cage. McCall, whose 13 assists are are the 10th highest single season total in school history, leads the KSC defense, while Hailey Beaupre (seven defensive saves), Courtney Jessup (two defensive saves) and Taylor Robison (two defensive saves) all help protect goalkeeper Rachel Loseby, who has started all 23 games for the Owls with a 1.87 goals against average, a .734 save percentage, and two shutouts.
New Paltz boasts a balanced offense, starting with freshman Jessica Ascencao (12-3-27), sophomore Carly Croteau (9-5-23), junior Kaitlyn Gunter (7-6-20), senior Samantha Ackerman (2-8-12), junior Sophia Urrutia (5-1-11), and senior Serena Capsello (5-0-10). Freshman Goalkeeper Ryan Dowling has started 16 games in the cage with a 2.20 goals against average and an .834 save percentage.
The Earlier Matchup
The two teams have met just once before, with New Paltz posting a 6-3 win over the Owls in the 2014 NCAA tournament. The teams went into the break tied 2-2, but the Hawks scored the final three goals of the game to take a 6-3 win. Sami Smith scored a pair of goals and assisted on KSC's other marker, and Meaghan Dwyer and Shauna Whittemore combined to make 14 saves in the KSC net.
The Rest of the Tournament
The Keene State/New Paltz winner will advance to the second round, where they will face No. 2 Middelbury College at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 10. Also heading to Northern Vermont will be No. 6 Vassar, which will play the winner of the first round matchup between No. 5 TCNJ and Keystone College.