'KEENE, N.H. 4/21/05 - The Keene State College men's lacrosse team can capture its first ever Little East regular season championship and secure the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament with a win over Eastern Connecticut State University this Saturday at Owl Athletic Complex. The battle between the two top teams in the LEC begins at 1 p.m.
"This is the game we've been waiting for all season," said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. "Every season we've narrowed the gap. Hopefully this is our year."
Both teams bring perfect conference record into the game. Keene State (5-4, 4-0 LEC) has yet to beat the Warriors in nine tries including the LEC finals the past two years. The Owls gave ECSU all they could handle in last year's championship game before falling 12-9.
Eastern Conn. (6-4, 4-0 LEC) which has won all four conference titles, has never lost an LEC game since men's lacrosse became a sponsored sport in 2001. Nicholas Smith took over as the Warrior's head coach this season. Former Coach Rick McCarthy, the architect of the ECSU program, moved on to Western Conn. last year.
A veteran team with nine seniors, KSC is led by attackman Eric Momnie (33-7-40), midfielder Meade McKay (10-21-31), defenseman Ron Ward and Garrett Keane, and freshman goalie Matt Johnson (9.16 GAA). "The seniors have had this game on our calendar for four seasons," said Momnie, who recently became KSC's all-time leading scorer with 213 points. "This is our last chance to beat them."
Although the Warriors have lost much of the fire-power that enabled them to earn four straight NCAA berths, they still feature a potent attack led by top scorers Brian Hebron (26-16-42) and Chris Elrod (25-5-30), and goalie Will Holland (8.43 GAA).
"Both teams are very similar with solid scoring," said Theriault. "The key will be maintaining possession and not many mistakes."
While a victory on Saturday will not guarantee a championship, it will give the winning team highly coveted home field advantage in the tournament. "They're a grass team and we play on turf, so that's a huge advantage," Theriault said.
"They've had a good run, but I think it would be nice for the conference if another team can rise to the occasion and win the championship," said the Owls' sixth year coach. "I'm optimistic about our chances. It should be a lot of fun."