KEENE, N.H. 5/2/11 – With finals weeks at Keene State College coinciding with the start of Little East Conference tournament play, Owl athletes will be tested in the classroom as well as on the field. Keene State men's and women's lacrosse and softball teams begin play in their respective LEC tournaments on Thursday.
Earning first-round byes, Keene State men's and women's lacrosse teams will host semifinal round games while the Owl softball squad will head to Danbury, Conn. for the conference's double-elimination tournament. The men's lacrosse game begins at 3:30 p.m. followed by the women's contest at 6 p.m. The Keene State softball team will face Rhode Island College at 4 p.m.
Keene State College (12-2) has captured the regular-season championship and No.1 seed in the 2011 Little East Men's Lacrosse Tournament for the second straight season and fourth time overall. The Owls posted an unblemished 7-0 mark in the conference circuit to earn home field advantage throughout the six-team championship.
The Owl will host the winner of the game between #5 University of Southern Maine and #4 Western Connecticut State University. KSC defeated Southern Maine (16-6) and Western Conn. (11-8) during the regular season. KSC Coach Mark Theriault said his team is excited about defending its crown. "This team is a little different than last year," he said. "We have some new faces looking forward to being part of a championship team and some returnees who want to win the championship again and see if they can go farther in the NCAA tournament."
Keene State will be looking for its fourth LEC championship. They won the title in 2005, 2007 and 2010.
The second seed in the women's lacrosse tournament, Keene State (11-5) will await the winner between #6 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and #3 University of Southern Maine. KSC handily defeated UMass-Dartmouth (18-8) and Southern Maine (15-7) during the regular season. Upset victims as the top seed last season, the Owls know they can't take any team lightly. "I think the team is ready, but they're also nervous because of last year," said KSC Coach Katie Arsenault. "Last year they went into the tournament over confident. That won't happen this time around."
The Keene State women's lacrosse team won its lone LEC championship in 2009.
After taking a double-dip against top seed Eastern Conn. on Saturday, Keene State (27-10-1) will be the third seed in the Little East Softball tournament. Keene State Coach Charlie Beach expects a very competitive tournament. "I don't remember a more difficult tournament since I've been coaching in the Little East," said Beach. "The top four teams in this bracket are just amazing."
Keene State advanced to the tournament finals the past two years, losing to R.I. College in 2009 and Eastern Conn. last season. Keene State claimed LEC conference titles in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2005.
2011 Little East Men's Lacrosse Tournament
First Round: Tuesday, May 3
#6 Plymouth State University at #3 Eastern Connecticut State University
#5 University of Southern Maine at #4 Western Connecticut State University
Semifinal Round: Thursday, May 5
#5/#4 Winner at #1 Keene State College
#6/#3 Winner at #2 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Championship Round: Saturday, May 7
2011 Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship
First Round – Tuesday, May 3
#5 Plymouth State University at #4 Western Connecticut State University
#6 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth at #3 University of Southern Maine
Semifinal Round –Thursday, May 5
#4/#5 Winner at #1 Eastern Connecticut State University
#3/#6 Winner at #2 Keene State College
Championship Round – Saturday, May 7
Semifinal Winner #1 vs. Semifinal Winner #2, at highest remaining seed
2011 Little East Softball Championship Tournament
Western Connecticut will be the host for the six-team,
Thursday, May 5
Game 1: #6 Plymouth State vs. #1 Eastern Connecticut, 12 p.m.
Game 2: #5 UMass Boston at #2 Western Connecticut, 2 p.m.
Game 3: #4 Rhode Island College vs. #3 Keene State College, 4 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 6 p.m.
Friday, May 6
Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 12 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 2 p.m.
*Game 7: TBA vs. TBA, 4 p.m.
*Game 8: TBA vs. TBA, 6 p.m.
The format for the remainder of the tournament will depend on the number of teams remaining in the championship and will be updated on Tournament Central on the Little East Conferenec page.