BLAIR'S GOAL LIFT OWLS OVER LIONS IN DOUBLE-OVERTIME 1-0
KEENE. N.H. 9/3/11 – Sometimes it's not how many shots you have on net, but what you do with the ones you get. The Keene State men's soccer team mustered just four shots on goal, but senior Cam Blair (Keene, N.H.) made the most of its last one - converting a crossing ball from senior Michael Broder (Peterborough, N.H.) at the 7:30 mark of the second-overtime period - to lift the Owls to a dramatic 1-0 victory over the College of New Jersey in the first day of the XARA Classic – Making Strides against Breast Cancer Tournament at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday.
Brandeis blanked Fitchburg State 5-0 in Saturday's first game. A tournament with predetermined opponents continues on Sunday with CNJ facing Fitchburg State at 12:30 p.m. and Keene State taking on Brandeis at 2:30 p.m.
Unable to solve the Lions' stingy defense all afternoon, Keene State was finally able to break through on a play started by junior Nick Greenwood (Peterborough, N.H.). "We just saw it unfolding a couple of steps ahead of the play. I saw Cam steam down the line and I gave him my last kick, all I had right there," said Broder. It was a nice feeling to see it go in."
Game-winning assists are nothing new for Broder, who set up Joe Senecal's deciding goal in a 3-2 win over Kean (N.J.) University in last year's opening-round game.
"I was gassed. I wanted to come out several times, but I knew I had to push through," said Blair. "As soon as I saw Broder going through, I knew I had give 100 percent and make that final run."
Keene State would've been in a position to win the game if not for the outstanding play of sophomore goalie Malcolm Cheney (Hopkinton, Mass.). Making just his second career start, Cheney was sensational, masking several game-saving stops especially in the second half. In a three-minute span midway in the period, Cheney came up big against Lion senior forward Ray Nelan. At the 19:26 mark he came out of his net to stop Nelan who was cutting to the net. Three minutes later, Cheney got his right arm on a drive by Cheney ticketed for the far corner.
At the 5:30 mark in the first overtime, Cheney saved the day again for the Owls, diving to left and just getting a hand on a blast by junior forward Taylor Gregory. "It's just anticipation, reading the line quick and getting to the ball fist," said Cheney, who finished the game with six saves. "The defense in front of me was outstanding. Their character really showed today, playing 122 minutes in this heat."
KSC had the better of the play in the first half, but many of their scoring opportunities were derailed by off-sides call. Lion junior goalie Matt Frederick, who made three saves in the game, stopped KSC lone scoring chance, smothering a shot by junior Joe Senecal (Manchaug, Mass.) who had broken in alone at the 31:16 mark. KSC dodged a bullet late in the half when a cross by Nelan went right across the goal line, but missed the far corner.
TCNJ outshot the Owls 15-10 and KSC had a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks.
Blair said the opening-season win against a quality opponent will give the Owls momentum heading into the season. "This is huge for us, especially for our younger guys," said Blair. Hopefully it will give them confidence as well."
It was just the second meeting between the two teams. The Owls defeated CNJ 3-2 in 1998 at the Christopher Newport tournament.