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Keene State Regains Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship

Keene State Regains Little East Women's Lacrosse Championship

MANSFIELD, CONN. – The Keene State College women's lacrosse team doesn't mind playing Little East Conference championship games on the road. For the second time in three years, the second seeded Owls captured the conference crown on enemy turf, defeating top seed Eastern Conn. State University 15-8 in Mansfield, Conn. on Saturday. KSC also won its 2009 title (9-8 OT) against the Warriors away from home. I'm very proud of this team," said KSC Coach Katie Arsenault. "They constantly improved throughout the season and deserve this championship."

The win was special for eight seniors on the team. "It was a very emotional for us," said Emily Persano (Somers, Conn). "It was our one goal the entire year and we were able to accomplish it."

Sophomore Lauren Brown (Agawam, Mass.) netted five goals and junior Caitlyn Corace (Mahopac, N.Y.) finished with three goals and two assists for Owls (13-5), who set a school record with their ninth straight victory. Earning the LEC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament, KSC will now await the tournament pairings which will be announced on Sunday night.

The two teams traded goals in the early going. With the score knotted at four-all, Keene State reeled off six straight goals to go up 10-4, netting the final four goals before the break and the first two goals in the second half. Corace had two goals in the uprising that was capped off by Brown's fourth goal of the game when she found an open lane to the net. "We really came together as a team today," said Brown, who was named the tournament's outstanding player. "Whenever someone was down, we picked each other up and fought all the way to the end."

At the other end of the field, Keene State's defense was airtight. "We were really vocal and supporting each other," said senior Shannon Palumbo (Guilford, Conn.), about the Owls defense which limited the Warriors to four goals in each half.

The Warriors cut the Owls' lead to 10-6 with a pair of goals, before the game was halted for 45 minutes due to a thunderstorm passing through the area.

The stoppage worked to the Owls' advantage. "The rain stopped their momentum and helped us regroup" said Palumbo.

Following the delay, KSC freshman goalie Erin Taylor (Brewster, N.Y.) made a key free-position save that ignited the Owls. Corace picked up the ball and raced down field, passing to senior Lauren Sawyer (Westbrook, Maine) for a goal that made it 11-6. Persano scored an unassisted goal in the Owls next possession to make it a 12-6 game.

Keene State worked the clock the rest of the game to keep the ball away from the Warriors. "We usually like to move the ball, but today we played smart and controlled the ball and they couldn't get it back," said senior Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.). "We didn't need goals, we needed the ball."

Albert and Persano each finished with two goals. Albert also added four assists.

Ashley Prizio, Daniela Marchitt and Erin Conn. each had two goals for ECSU (9-8).

Taylor had another strong game in goal for the Owls, making 11 saves. Nancy Ibrahim stopped 15 shots for the Warriors.

"They won the championship as sophomores, so we wanted to win this for them as seniors," said Brown. "It was a good way to send them off."