'KEENE, N.H. 11/5/03 - The Keene State College men's soccer team advanced to the championship game of the Little East Conference Tournament with a 2-0 shutout victory over Rhode Island College in a semifinal game played Wednesday at Owl Athletic Complex.
The second-seeded Owls (14-5-1) will host fourth seed Western Conn., Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Western Conn. (11-5-4) upset top seed Plymouth State in the other semifinal contest. KSC will be shooting for its third straight and fourth conference title.
"The key to the game was getting the two quick early goals," said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. "We were then able to weather the storm and hang on for the win."
Keene State didn't waste anytime getting on the board. After Justin Hickman (Mont Vernon, N.H.) was taken down in the box, Jason Lombardo (Woburn, Mass.) scored on a penalty kick just 1:51 into the game. It was his team-leading 15th goal of the season.
Hickman seventh goal of the season gave the Owls' a 2-0 half-time lead when he headed in a cross from Eric Scott (West Springfield, Mass.) at the 12:44 mark.
Joe McKinnon (Exeter, R.I.) had the best scoring chance for RIC in the fist half. He was set up in front, but his shot sailed just wide of the post.
Keene State had to play a man down for almost the entire second half after senior defender Steve Curry (Lyme, Conn.) was issued his second yellow card of the game.
Casey Banks (Westborough, Mass.) had an opportunity to extend KSC leads on a breakaway attempt, but his shot was smothered by Jason Nelson (Pascoag, R.I.).
Later in the half, Dan Toro (Pawtucket, R.I.) had another scoring chance denied by Brandon Beck (Johnstown, N.Y.) who made a diving save to keep RIC off the board.
Nick Rossi (North Kingstown, R.) got a red card with 7:01 to play that evened up the sides.
Beck had four saves for KSC while Nelson finished the game with seven saves for RIC (11-8).