KEENE, N.H. – Second seed Keene State
College rolled to a convincing 17-1 victory over third seed the
University of Southern Maine in a semifinal game of the Little East
Conference women's lacrosse tournament at Owl Athletic Complex on
Tying the school record with their eighth straight win, the Owls (12-5) advance to the LEC championship game where they will play top seed and host Eastern Conn. State. The Warriors edged fourth seed Western Conn. State 9-8 to move on to the finals. The championship game will be played in Mansfield, Conn. on Saturday (1 p.m.).
Sophomore Lauren Brown (Agawam, Mass.) scored five goals and junior Caitlin Corace (Mahopac, N.Y.) found the back of the net four times, but the game was all about the Owl seniors, who had redemption on their minds after being upset by the Huskies 10-8 in last year's semifinal round.
Senior Lauren Sawyer (Westbrook, Maine) wasn't surprised by the lopsided scored. "They came out and beat us on our home field last year. This year, we were after revenge and I think we got it," said Sawyer, who finished with a goal and four assists.
"We decided before this game that we were going to leave everything on field and the score shows that we did," said senior Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.) who contributed a goal and five assists to the victory.
Southern Maine's Rosie Forster (Andover, Mass.) scored the first goal of the game, but it was all Keene State from there.
Keene State scored nine straight goals to take a 9-1 halftime lead and added eight unanswered goals in the second half. The Owls, who lead the LEC in goals, assists and points per game, put on an offensive show; scoring on high shots low shots, fast breaks and free positions shots. "We just came out with extra focus today," said Sawyer. "We were all on the same page. This was the game we were waiting for to put it all together."
"We were ready and I think it showed in how crisp our offense played," said Albert.
Seniors Emily Persano (Somers, Conn.), who was all over the field, along and Jill Kirk (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) and Nicole Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) each finished with two goals.
While the offensive was doing its job, the Owls defense put a lock on the net, limiting the Huskies to just 17 shots. "The last few days in practice we've been a lot more vocal and our slides and doubles were right on," said senior defender Shannon Palumbo. "We just stepped up our game."
"We worked as a team and everyone had confidence in the person next to them," said Persano. "If there was a break down, the next player was always there to help out."
Playing in her first tournament game, freshman Erin Taylor (Brewster, N.Y.) was sensational in goal for KSC, finishing with 10 saves, stopping several point-blank free position shots.
Sophomore Samantha Kiesel (Lakeville, Mass.) also turned aside 10 shots for the Huskies (8-11).
The Owls now turn their attention to Eastern Conn. State, which
moves into the championship game for the ninth time in ten years
(seventh straight). Keene State will be making its second trip to
the finals. They lost to Plymouth State 9-5 in the 2004 title game
and won their lone LEC crown in 2009, upsetting the Warriors 9-8 in
overtime. "We don't mind playing on their field and being the
underdogs," said Palumbo. "It should be an awesome game."
Albert said she is anxious to play against the Warriors after missing the regular season game, a 15-14 loss in four-overtimes, due to an injury. "I'm ready to show them what I can do," she said. "I think we're a better team since we last played them."
As far as Sawyer is concerned, she hopes history repeats itself on Saturday. "We're going to try to make it a repeat of our sophomore year," she said.