KEENE, N.H. - Julia Babbitt tipped home a shot with just 2:06 remaining to complete a stirring comeback for the Keene State College field hockey team, which came from two goals down in the second half to beat SUNY New Paltz 4-3 in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Owl Athletic Complex.
- Keene State: 18-6
- New Paltz: 12-8
How It Happened
Nina Bruno inched closer to the single season goal record by scoring two more times, while Kelsey Roberts and Babbitt also found the back of the cage as Keene State advanced by scoring three goals in the final 22:48 to erase a 3-1 deficit. The Owls had the better of the chances in the early stages of the first half, but all five shot attempts - four from Bruno - in the first 10 minutes were off target. New Paltz had a brief counter, but KSC keeper Rachel Loseby kept out Carly Croteau's shot, and just 55 seconds later, the Owls were on the board through their offensive leader, as Bruno's 31st goal of the season put Keene State up 1-0 at the 11:59 mark. The Hawks soared after that, scoring three times in a 6:29 span to take command quickly. KSC's lead lasted 30 seconds before Maggie Cottrell found Sophia Urrutia at 12:29 to tie the game at one. New Paltz continued to generate ample chances, and was ahead 2-1 in the 18th minute when Croteau sent home a feed from Jessica Ascencao. It was 3-1 just 1:24 later when Kaitlyn Gunter found the back of the cage. Keene State generated three penalty corners and two shots on goal over the remainder of the half, but could not cash in. The Hawks nearly added another with just over two minutes left in the half, but Serena Capsello's shot hit the post as it stayed a 3-1 game at halftime.
New Paltz still had the better of the chances to open the second stanza, but Loseby denied Capsello in the 40th minute. Keene State sprung to life with less than 25 minutes to go. After a shot from Babbitt hit the post, Bruno followed it up for her second goal of the game, slicing the deficit to 3-2 at the 47:12 mark. Two shots from Nicole Mercadante a short time later went wide, but the Owls kept plugging, tying the game in the 59th minute when Bruno set up Roberts, who now has four goals in the last four games after having three in the previous 20. The Hawks responded with a string of four corner opportunities in a five minute span, but their best chance, a try from Ascencao, was saved by Loseby in the 67th minute. The Owls' counter proved to be the game decider with time winding down. Ally McCall, coming off Most Outstanding Player honors in the Little East Tournament, had her bid tipped home by Babbitt at the 67:54 mark as KSC went up 4-3. New Paltz had one final surge, but Kaitlyn Gunter's shot at 68:36 was saved by Loseby, and the Owls killed off a Hawks final-minute penalty corner as Ascencao's bid was blocked and Croteau's was just wide.
Loseby (18-6) made seven stops to earn the win in the KSC cage. Counterpart Ryan Dowling (11-7) made a pair of stops for New Paltz.
- Keene State, who was making their 11th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth straight, advances to the second round for the fifth time since 2011.
- Babbitt, who notched the game winner, also scored what proved to be the deciding goal that gave the Owls the Little East Championship last Saturday at Castleton University. She is now ninth on the all-time KSC points list.
- Bruno's 32 goals on the season leave her alone in second place on the all-time single season list. Sami Smith's 36 are the record. Bruno, a sophomore, is also sixth on the all-time KSC goals list with 55 and seventh on the all-time points list with 127.
- It was only the second meeting all-time between the two programs, both coming in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Keene. The Owls got a measure of revenge on the Hawks, who beat KSC 6-3 on November 12, 2014.
- Keene State will travel to take on No. 2 Middlebury College in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, November 10 at 11:00 am.
- New Paltz, who made their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the SUNYAC Tournament, sees their season end.