KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State men's soccer team was unable to come up with a win in their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2010, falling to the Bombers of Ithaca College 2-1 Saturday at Dr. Ron Butcher Field.
- Keene State: 15-7-0
- Ithaca: 13-5-2
How it Happened:
The host of the tournament, Keene State came into their first NCAA tournament game since 2010, as their opponent was making their mark into the tournament for the first time since 2008. Ithaca College would come away with much of the possession in the first 16 minutes of play. The Bombers possession would lead to their first goal of the contest. Ithaca's Thomas Pierce found twine for the third time of the year as a throw in was awarded to the Bombers. Ithaca's throw would bounce around inside the box, deflecting off multiple players before Pierce could get a foot on the ball and put the ball past a diving GK Nate Howard, giving the Bombers the early 1-0 lead.
Keene State wouldn't let the Bombers first goal of the game get to them, as just four minutes later, the Owls would strike back with one of their own goals, tying the score again. Keene's leading scorer Emmanuel Smith had a toe on the ball and punched it through a defender of Ithaca's threading a pass to teammate LJ Luster who took a left foot shot past the sprawling GK Max Lichtenstein and into the cage. Keene State would lock the game at one.
The game continued with much aggression from both sides, as the Owls would commit ten fouls in the first half, to the Bombers six. With time winding down in the first half, Keene State found themselves in the defensive end, with Ithaca College attacking. Ithaca's Kyle Sicke sent a through pass to seven goal scorer Theo Scott, who netted his team leading eighth goal of the season with 51 seconds to play in the first half.
Coming out of half time, the Bombers continued to pressure, looking to advance their lead to two goals. The Owls GK Nate Howard was on top of his game, making multiple saves in the second half, allowing his team to stay in the thick of the contest.
The game would come down to the wire, as the Owls were awarded three corner kicks in a span of one minute in the second half in the 85th minute looking to get on the board. Emmanuel Smith took all three corner kicks placing them in the same location, the top of the box. Keene State saw the ball bounce around inside the box, but The Bombers defense was able to clear the ball up the field on the third attempt, not allowing Keene State another opportunity.
The Owls would drop their final game of the season, 2-1. Ithaca College will move on to play the Mammoths of Amherst College on Sunday, November 17 at Dr. Ron Butcher Field at Keene State College at 3:00 pm.
Inside the Box:
- Ithaca's Theo Scott scored the GWG in the first half, his eighth on the season. Keene State's lone goal came from LJ Luster who collected his third goal of the season.
- GK Nate Howard for the Owls came away with seven saves on the afternoon. His counterpart, Max Lichtenstein made four saves.
- Both teams registered just one corner kick each in the first half, but ramped it up in the second half, securing five corner kicks each.
- With the win, Ithaca College picks up their first NCAA men's soccer tournament victory since 2002, when they defeated Worcester State University 2-0.
- With the loss, the Owls season has completed after winning the LEC championship for the first time since 2010.
- Keene State ends their season with a 15-7 record, making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.
- Ithaca College continues their run, as they will play Amherst College tomorrow, November 17 at Dr. Ron Butcher Field at Keene State College for a 3:00 pm kickoff.