KEENE, N.H. - Owners of six consecutive Little East tournament titles and a 48-7 all-time record in the conference postseason, the Keene State College field hockey team will look to add another trophy to their mantel this week, and that road begins with a quarterfinal matchup against in-state rival Plymouth State University Tuesday night (6:30 p.m.) at Owl Athletic Complex.
Keene State comes in with a 13-7 overall record and 10-2 in conference play. The Owls wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a 4-0 win at Framingham State University on October 26 before concluding the regular season with two non-conference tilts last week. The Owls, who tied with Western Connecticut State University and the University of Southern Maine, would up garnering the No. 2 seed by virtue of their head-to-head win over league-leading Worcester State University, which neither of the other two teams in the tie had. Plymouth State finished 6-6 in league play and is 8-9 overall this season. The Panthers won two of their final three LEC games to finish seventh. Salem State University also went 6-6, but beat PSU 1-0 head-to-head.
KSC head coach Amy Watson is in her 30th season leading the Owls, and currently has a career mark of 442-198-11 (.687), good for the ninth most wins all-time among coaches in Division III. She has led Keene State to all 14 of their league titles (1998, 1999, 2004-2008, 2011, 2013-2018). Bonnie Lord (255-132, .659) is in her 20th season with Plymouth, leading the Panthers to three straight LEC championships from 2000 to 2002 and nine title game appearances overall, with the last coming in 2013.
Juniors Nina Bruno and Kayla Klein continue to be the Owls' go-to scorers, with Bruno moving up to second on Keene State's all-time goals list after a regular season that saw her post 19 goals, six assists and 44 points. Klein has been right with her all year, and currently has 17 goals and seven assists for 41 points. Seven of those 17 tallies turned out to be game winners. Senior Kelsey Roberts enjoyed a breakout offseason with career highs of nine goals and 11 assists, and her classmate Ally McCall continues to be a stellar defender for the Owls that also contributes on the offensive end, notching a pair of career bests on her own (5-15-25). Senior Hailey Beaupre has made six more defensive saves this season, and now has 19 for her career, tied for second most on the all-time KSC list. Junior goalkeeper Rachel Loseby enters the postseason at 11-6 with a .755 save percentage and has allowed 1.57 goals per game, making 17 starts. She also has easily set a new best for shutouts with five.
Junior Haley Wakefield (8-2-18) and sophomore Jess Mezquita (7-4-18) are Plymouth's offensive leaders, while junior keeper Jess Distler has allowed 1.80 goals per game and recorded a save percentage of .728 in 12 games. Senior defender Kylie Ham has made four of her team's six defensive saves while also chipping in eight points.
The Earlier Matchup
Plymouth State handed Keene State one of their two conference losses, 3-2 on October 1 at the New Hampton School. Ham and Mezquita scored in the opening 9:27 as PSU built a 2-0 lead, and eventually widened the gap to three on Mariah Luscher's tally in the 22nd minute. Keene State hit back to two quick goals from Nina Bruno, one in the 26th minute and another in the 33rd minute, two draw back within 3-2, but the Owls could not find the equalizer despite outshooting the Panthers 6-2 after the break, including 5-0 in the fourth quarter. Distler made seven stops for the hosts and Loseby three for KSC.
The Rest of the Tournament
The winner of this quarterfinal will take on the victor from the matchup between No. 3 seed Western Connecticut and No. 6 seed Salem State. The other contests see top-seeded Worcester State tangle with 8th-seeded UMass-Dartmouth and No. 4 seed University of Southern Maine host No. 5 seed Castleton. The quarterfinal winners will square off on Thursday, November 7, with the two teams remaining after that playing for the championship on Saturday, November 9. All games in the tournament are hosted by the higher seed.