Rivalry Renewed: Keene State set for key LEC women's lacrosse game at Plymouth State on Tuesday
KEENE, N.H. 4/14/12 – Rivalry sometimes run in cycles. One team can call the shots for a while, then the other team rises up and has the upper hand. Such is the rivalry between the Keene State and Plymouth State women’s lacrosse teams, which will be renewed at Arold Field in Plymouth on Tuesday (4 p.m.). Tomorrow’s game will be the home opener for the Panthers.
Plymouth State had a distinct head start in the sport. According to the PSU web page, lacrosse at the school dates back to 1971. Keene State didn’t sponsor the sport until 1998, when the school moved to Division III.
Given the development of the programs, it’s easy to understand why Plymouth State dominated the series, first in the New England Women’s Lacrosse Alliance (NEWLA) and later in the Little East Conference, which began sponsoring the sport in 2002. The Panthers devoured the Owls, winning the first 16 games between the two teamsand outscoring KSC by a 240-73 margin. Plymouth State also captured four of the first five LEC championships, with its last title coming in 2006.
The tide turned in 2008, when the Owls snapped the streak with a 20-6 victory. Since then, KSC has won five of the last six meetings, including a 10-4 victory last season. The Owls claimed their first LEC crown in 2009 and are the defending conference champs.
Both young teams come into the game boasting long winning streaks. Keene State (10-2, 3-0 LEC) tied the school record for consecutive wins (8) on Saturday with its 20-12 victory over Rhode Island College. Plymouth State (9-1, 2-0 LEC) extended its winning streak to nine games, all on the road, by defeating Eastern Conn. (13-8) on Saturday. A Keene State win will give Katie Arsenault her 50th career coaching win – surpassing the mark set by Emily Johnson, who cached the Owls from 2002-06.
The Owls are looking forward to the challenge. “We’re more than ready. We’ve been getting ready for days,” said senior captain Sammi Benson. “They’ve had a great season, but we have, too. So it’s going to be a really good match-up.”
“We know it’s a big game and we’re just going to come in with a positive attitude and do our best,” said junior Lauren Brown “If we play the way we did against Eastern (an 11-6 win), I know it’s going to be a fight to the finish.”
The game will feature the two top offenses and defenses in the LEC. PSU is averaging 18.10 goals per game while KSC is at 13.33. The Panthers also have a slight advantage defensively, allowing 7.33 GAA to the Owls’ 9.01 GAA.
Individually, the Owls are led in scoring by the trio of sophomore Eliza Witherbee (30-13-43), Brown (34-2-36), and Benson (19-17-36), while the Panthers are led by the freshmen duo of Meaghan McNabb (33-30-63) and Shannon Connerty (35-11-46).
Both teams have stellar sophomore goalies. KSC’s Erin Taylor (8.58 GAA, .546 SV%) and PSU’s Lorin Field (6.87 GAA, .555 SV%) top the LEC in both goals against and save percentage. Taylor was named the LEC goalie of the week, while freshman Molly Gleason of Plymouth was recognized as the conference’s defensive player of the week.
“I think it’s good that the rivalry is back and there’s good competition between the two teams,” said Brown. “Good, close games are only going to help us grow as a team.”