LEC Tournament Madness continues for Keene State fall teams
KEENE, N.H. 11/3/11- It will be a busy weekend for Keene State fans, as four fall Owl teams are still alive and kicking in their respective Little East Conference tournaments.
On Friday night, Keene State women's soccer and field hockey teams get back to work, hosting LEC semifinal-round games at Owl Athletic Complex. The top-seeded KSC women's soccer team (13-7) will take on fourth seed UMass-Boston (13-6-1) while across the way on the turf field the top seeded Owl field hockey team (17-4) will face fifth-seed Westfield State University (12-6). The field hockey game will begin at 4 p.m and the women's soccer game is scheduled at 6 p.m.
Earning a first-round bye, the Owl women's soccer team shutout the Beacons 4-0 back on Sept. 17 in Keene. KSC Coach Denise Lyons knows her team will be facing an improved UMB team on Friday night. "I know Amy Zombeck (a former Owl player and assistant coach) will have her team ready for the game," Lyons said. "They're a team you can't take lightly."
Keene State, which captured LEC championships in 2002 and 2004, will be facing the UMass-Boston for the first time in LEC Tournament play.
The Beacons advanced to the semifinals with a 2-0 win over fifth seed UMass-Dartmouth on Wednesday. Krista Ledin and Kristin Mulry scored goals for UMB. Since arriving in 2005, Zombeck has resurrected the UMass-Boston program, leading the Beacons to a first-ever berth in the LEC finals last year.
Second seed Eastern Conn. (10-8) and Western Conn. (13-6) will battle in the second semifinal game. The two semifinal winners will face each other in the finals on Sunday (1 p.m.) at the highest remaining seed.
The Keene State field hockey team will be looking to continue its post-season momentum that began with a 7-0 quarterfinal victory over eighth seed Southern Maine on Wednesday night. Senior Elizabeth Coffin led the Owls' offensive assault with four goals.
The Owls had their hands full getting past Westfield State during the regular season, edging WSU1-0 on a goal by Coffin in a game played in Westfield. "It's going to be a battle, Westfield is playing real well right now," said KSC Coach Amy Watson. "I'm expecting another close game.
"Scoring a lot of goals against Southern Maine was nice, but the players are very good at maintaining their focus and taking it one game at a time."
Keene State will be looking to return to the LEC finals for the first time since 2009. The Owls claimed LEC crowns in 1998-99, and 2004-2008. Westfield is making its first tournament appearance since 2008. Keene State defeated Westfield 1-0 to win the 2005 LEC title.
The other semifinal match-up has second seed Plymouth State (16-2) hosting third seed UMass-Dartmouth (10-9). The two semifinal winners will play for the title at the highest remaining seed on Sunday (12 p.m.).
Both Keene State men's soccer and women's volleyball teams will continue their quest for LEC titles on the road this Saturday. The second seeded Keene State men's soccer team (11-7-1) travels down to Willimantic, Conn., on Saturday (1 p.m.) to take on top seed Eastern Conn. State University (13-5-1) in the LEC finals while the third seeded Owl women's volleyball team (18-12) heads up to Plymouth State to face second seed UMass-Boston (24-4) in a semifinal tournament game.
Sophomore Scott Douglas's third goal of the game in overtime lifted the Owls to a 3-2 win over third seed Rhode Island College in a wild semifinal game on Wednesday night. The Warriors moved on to the championship with a 4-0 victory over fourth seed UMass-Dartmouth. Junior Carl Stensland scored two goals for ECSU in the game.
After dominating the series against Eastern Conn. the Owls have struggled against the upstart Warriors of late, dropping their first game to ECSU 2-0 earlier this season in Willimantic. KSC Coach Ron Butcher is leery of the Warriors. "Eastern is a team we don't match up with very well, they're strong and fast. They just run over you and we're not equipped to deal with that," Butcher said. "We can't make a mistake against them."
This will be the fifth meeting between the Owls and the Warriors in the LEC tournament. KSC has won four of the meeting, including a semifinal victories in 1999 (3-0) and 2004 (2-0). The two Teams met in the 2007 finals with ECSU being awarded the win on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw.
Eastern and Keene have combined to win four of the last five titles, each winning twice.
The Keene State women's volleyball team, which defeated sixth seed Rhode Island College 3-1 in its quarterfinal match on Tuesday, has had its hands full trying to short circuit the nationally-ranked Beacon, ranked 20th in the latest AVCA poll.
Since joining the LEC in 1997, KSC is 11-6 against the Beacons. The Owls won eight straight matches against UMB from 2002-2008, including the LEC championship in 2008. Since that time, the Owls have dropped their last four matches against the Beacons, including a 3-1 loss in last year's LEC finals and a 3-0 setback earlier this season at UMB's Clark Athletic Center.
Keene State senior Bridget O'Bryant is looking forward to getting one more crack at UMass-Boston, which earned a first-round bye. "They're going to be a tough team to beat," she said. "We stayed with them in all three games we played against them earlier this season, but we need to learn how to finish. We need to prove to ourselves we can beat them."
Host and top seed Plymouth State (22-9) faces fifth seed Eastern Conn. (20-9) in the first game at 2 p.m. The two semifinal winners will meet in championship game on Sunday (12 p.m.)
Looking for their first LEC title since 2004, Plymouth State defeated Eastern Conn. 3-0 earlier this season. The Warriors upset fourth seed Western Conn. 3-2 in their quarterfinal match.