The Keene State College men’s lacrosse team became Little East Conference Champions after a barn burner of a win over the Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) Warriors.
After a 24-12 drumming of the Salem State Vikings on the road, the Owls came back to Owls Athletic Complex to defend home turf and their undefeated conference record. The regular season finale did not disappoint, as it was a hard fought battle until the very end with goals being a scarcity in the early goings.
The Warriors struck first with a goal from senior midfielder Liam Murphy, and was quickly countered after the next face-off with a goal by senior attack, Tyler McKelvie. Sophomore midfielder Hunter Arnold then followed up with the second goal of the game for the Owls. Senior attack Michael Dellanno and Murphy responded with a goal each for the Warriors making it a 3-2 game, but Arnold tied it up with his second goal of the game.
In the second quarter, the Warriors scored three consecutive goals before McKelvie narrowed the deficit with a goal to make it 6-4. When it seemed the Owls were about to turn the tide in their favor, the Warriors scored off the sticks of senior midfielder Dan Vasquez and junior midfielder Nick Fernandes, taking advantage of a three minute penalty period for KSC. Paul Beling helped slow down the Warriors momentum with a goal before the end of the half to make the contest an 8-5 game.
Before the first half’s conclusion, Owls Head Coach Mark Theriault made a goalie change, pulling starter sophomore Mathew Howe for senior goalkeeper Alex Sharp. Howe saved just three of ten shots, allowing seven goals in the first half. Sharp went on to shine for the rest of the game, saving eight of 12 shots.
The Warriors scored the first goal of the second with a tally from Murphy. With the Owls on the ropes, their defense gave them new life. Sharp, along with junior midfielder Ryan Askham, junior defenseman Michael Wiedenfeld and company shutout the Warriors for the quarter. Askham scooped six ground balls while Wiedenfeld had three. Face off man and midfielder James Dowd had a critical role in the Owls win as well, as he won 15-24 faceoffs.
Junior Midfielder, Bryan Rotatori and McKelvie scored unassisted tallies to cut their deficit to two. With man-up opportunities, Arnold and Rotatori scored goals to tie the game at nine each. Just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter, senior attack Tim Reilly scored to bring the Warriors within one before KSC began to take control.
Goals from Rotatori and Arnold gave the Owls a three goal lead, followed by another goal from Reilly to keep the Warriors deficit at two. With the Warriors hanging around the Owls chewed clock by controlling possession, and finished the game off with goals from junior attack Tyler Reilly and sophomore attack Paul Beling. The Owls sent the seniors off with a bang with a 15-11 senior night win.
With both teams coming into the contest with a 5-1 record in the Little East Conference, the Keene State women’s lacrosse team battled rival Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) on the road in an overtime thriller.
To open the game, the Warriors struck first with a goal from sophomore midfielder Maggie Bodington before the Owls struck back with five unanswered goals.
Junior attack Taylor Graf netted an assist from sophomore midfielder Taylor Farland with junior midfielder Jenna Bellano also scoring on a free position opportunity.
Senior midfielder Kaitlin Nolan then tossed an assist to freshman midfielder Samantha Ballard, followed by a tally from sophomore midfielder Tori Weinstock. Their five goal run from the Owls ended with a goal from Weinstock and a free position tally from Nolan with 15:27 left on the clock.
The Warriors then gained momentum back with a free position shot of their own converted by junior midfielder Paige Schneider.
Their momentum was then stifled by more offense from KSC with two goals from Nolan and one from junior attack Kelly Chadnick to make the score a lopsided 8-2. Graf and Nolan then scored again before Schneider netted one for the Warriors. Kelly Chadnick and ECSU’s Michelina Pinto exchanged goals to make the halftime score 11-4.
With the first being all Owls, the second would tell a different story as freshman attack Michelina Pinto scored once more for the Warriors to open the half. The Owls got unassisted markers from Farland and Chadnick to increase their lead before the Warriors put together a crucial run.
ECSU scored six unanswered in just nine minutes to cut the KSC lead to two with the score 13-11. Nolan responded for the Owls with her sixth goal of the game off a free position opportunity, which would be the last goal of the game for KSC.
The Warriors went on to force overtime with three straight goals in the final 2:48 in regulation with the final goal of the run coming from Schneider with just four seconds left.
After a hard fought overtime, ECSU senior attack Tess Mraz sunk the game winning goal to serve the Owls the difficult overtime loss in their regular season finale.
Nick Tocco can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org