CASTLETON, Vt. - For the sixth consecutive year and 14th time in program history, the Keene State College field hockey team is the champion of the Little East Conference. On Saturday afternoon at Dave Wolk Stadium, the second-seeded Owls dominated offensively and got goals from Erica Stauffer and Julia Babbitt to beat tournament host and top seed Castleton University 2-1.
- Keene State: 17-6
- Castleton: 15-5
How It Happened
Behind the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Ally McCall, the Keene State offense was on the attack all day while the defense held the Spartans without a shot for the final 37:59 of the contest. The Owls were generating opportunities right away, as Nina Bruno took two penalty corners and Babbitt one in the first six minutes. However, a shot from McCall was blocked and one from Bruno went wide. It was not much longer after that before KSC was on the board. Following another Bruno corner, Stauffer tipped in McCall's feed for a 1-0 lead at the 14:20 mark. Castleton answered quickly off a corner of their own. In the 20th minute, Allison Lowell initiated the chance and Gabrielle Ryan cashed in as the Spartans evened the score on their first shot attempt of the game. KSC generated four shots in the ensuing six minutes, but the only one on target was saved by CU goalie Tashia Pashby-Rockwood. Her counterpart Rachel Loseby kept out Megan Ryan's bid in the 31st minute as the teams went to the locker room tied 1-1.
The second half was all Owls, but it remained tied until the 54th minute, as Pashby-Rockwood stopped Bruno twice in quick succession in the 41st minute and four other KSC chances were off the mark or blocked. The pressure continued, as Babbitt's corner at 50:34 resulted in a shot that went wide and Roberts' corner at 52:28 ended up in a McCall shot being blocked. Keene State then broke through, taking the lead less than a minute later when Babbitt forced a turnover and beat Pashby-Rockwood one on one for a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute. That proved to be the game winner, as the Owls stifled Castleton over the remainder of the contest, not allowing them another shot, which included when the Spartans played the final 2:34 with the goalie pulled.
Loseby made one stop while improving to 17-6 for KSC. Pashby-Rockwood (15-5) made three saves for Castleton.
- Keene State has won conference titles in 1998-99, 2004-08, 2011, and 2013-2018, easily the most in the conference since 1998. They have beaten six different opponents in the championship in that span, including Plymouth State, UMass Dartmouth, Eastern Connecticut, Southern Maine, Westfield State and Castleton since 2013. In fact, since 1998, KSC's 14 titles double the rest of the league, which has seven combined.
- The Owls outshot Castleton 19-4, including 12-0 in the second half, while gaining a measure of revenge against the Spartans, who clinched the LEC Regular Season Title with a 5-4 double-overtime win in Keene one week ago. KSC also had a 10-2 edge in penalty corners.
- Castleton's four shots mark their second lowest total of the season, only behind the three they had on September 5 against No. 1 Middlebury.
- KSC has beaten the Spartans 13 times in 15 all-time meetings.
- Keene State receives the Little East's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament. They will find out who their next opponent is when the field is announced tomorrow night, November 4, at 11:30 pm. Check keeneowls.com for updates.
- Castleton's first ever season as a member of the LEC comes to an end. The Spartans went 11-1 in the conference and had beaten Eastern Connecticut 7-0 and Worcester State 2-1 in overtime to reach the championship game.