'KEENE, N.H. 5/6/05 - The Keene State College men's lacrosse team will be shooting for its first Little East Conference tournament championship when its hosts Eastern Connecticut State University in the title game at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday (1 p.m.).
The top seeded Owls (9-4) advanced to the championship game with a 15-7 victory over fifth seed UMass-Boston while second seed Eastern Conn. (9-5) moved on after a 15-6 win against third seed Western Conn.
Saturday could be an historic day for the KSC, which will be hosting the finals for the first time. "We have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament for the first time with nine seniors, and that's they way it should be," said Mark Theriault, Keene State's sixth-year coach. "The players know how important the game is and the amount of sacrifice it took to get here. They will be emotionally ready, just like the last game against Eastern."
In that last game, Keene State defeated the Warriors for the first time in nine tries with a 15-4 victory on April 23 in Keene. The two teams have met in the past two LEC Championship games with ECSU winning 19-8 in 2003 and 12-9 last spring.
Both teams feature strong scoring and goaltending. KSC is led by senior attackman Eric Momnie (South Windsor, Conn.). Momnie who has 44 goals, 15 assists and 59 points, scored a pair of goals against UMB on Tuesday to become KSC's all-time goal scorer (153). Meade MacKay (Stratham, N.H.) (19-27-46) and Sean Panora (South Windsor, Conn.) (29-6-35) are also key members of KSC's attack. Long stick midfielder Brian Walsh (West Hartford, Conn.), defenders Garrett Keane (Amherst, N.H.) and Ron Ward (Derry, N.H.) anchor the Owls' backline in front of freshman goalie Matt Johnson (Derry, N.H.) (7.96 GAA).
Brian Hebron (33-31-64), Chris Elrod (32-6-38), and Dave Carpenter (16-22-38) top the Warriors' offense while Will Holland (8.54 GAA) has excelled between the pipes.
Despite their earlier win, Keene State knows it will have its hands full trying to beat the four-time conference champs. "Winning that last time showed we can beat them," said Momnie. "It's hard to defeat a team twice in one season, but if we show up and play they way we're capable of, I don't see any problem."