[singlepic id=1118 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The Keene State College women’s soccer team is coming off of a great season last year.
Although they lost in heartbreaking fashion in the Little East Conference championship last year, 1-0 in penalty kicks against Eastern Connecticut State, they look to have much of the same success this year.
The Lady Owls were picked to finish second in the LEC preseason poll this year. Head coach Denise Lyons said she is very confident in this year’s team.
“I think they are in great shape. This is the best they have ever come back, especially the returning players. I credit that to my assistant coach, Sarah Testo, the strength and conditioning coach. She gave them a great summer workout package,” Lyons said.
Senior captain Brittany Croteau said as long as the team can maintain its focus, they should be all set this season.
“We need to focus every time coming into a game. That’s what we have struggled with so far. We don’t always come out as hard as we should, right away,” Croteau said.
Lyons said she thinks her team’s biggest strengths include their ability to move the ball up the middle of the field.
“We have Kristen Huckins at stopper, Kelsey Bailey at sweeper, Croteau in the midfield, Joan Hamel and Jess Berthiaume up top. We have the middle figured out, it’s just the outsides that we have to figure out,” Lyons said.
The KSC women’s soccer team has opened the season with losses in three of their first four games. But all losses came in one-goal games.
Both Lyons and captain Brittany Croteau said they are anticipating the start of LEC play.
“Each game is important. But I think the most important ones are the LEC games. We have to take care of business there,” Lyons said.
The Lady Owls begin their LEC schedule with a game at U-Mass Boston on Sept. 15, 2012.
The Keene State College men’s soccer team ended last season with a loss to Eastern Connecticut State University, 1-0, in the Little East Conference championship. But the past is the past according to this year’s team.
Head men’s soccer coach, Ron Butcher said, “That was last year, this is this year.”
[singlepic id=1115 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The Owls are off to a strong start, winning three of their first four games, one of those wins coming in overtime.
“It’s early and we’ve made a lot of changes but we will be okay at the end. The end is what it’s all about,” Butcher said.
This year’s team was picked to finish third in the LEC preseason poll. Although the team returned almost their entire defensive line, goal scoring is a major concern for the Owls so far this season.
Coach Butcher said, “Goal scoring right now is a big concern of mine. Until we get that figured out, we are going to have a lot of 1-0 games or 1-1 games or overtime games and I don’t like those games.”
Junior and last year’s leading goal scorer Scott Douglas said of this year’s team, “I think one of our biggest strengths right now is our defensive play and our ability to counter attack and get to goal.”
Coach Ron Butcher agreed with Douglas, saying that defense was the team’s biggest strength, along with goalkeeping.
The Keene State College men’s soccer team opens up Little East Conference play against UMass-Boston, Sept. 15, 2012.
Douglas said he is most looking forward to this game because it kicks off their Little East Conference schedule.
Coach Butcher said that Little East Conference games are always important ones for the team to take home.
Butcher is also looking forward to an upcoming LEC game against Eastern Connecticut State University.
“That’s one of our big rivals,” Butcher said.
The team will look to avenge their loss in the LEC championship on Oct. 6, 2012.
Men’s Cross Country
The Keene State College men’s cross country team said they feel very confident in their ability to succeed this season.
A senior and one of this year’s top runners, Thomas Paquette said, “We feel very confident. We have had three strong weeks of training. We look good together and we’ve been running together.”
[singlepic id=1110 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Head coach Peter Thomas said this year’s team looks much different than last year’s.
“We just graduated Kevin Hoyt, our national qualifier from last year. Last year’s team was quite small but we brought in some good recruits. We got a few injured team members back, so that’s good,” Thomas said.
Thomas added, “They’re training exceedingly well. We just have to wait and see what the learning curve is. When they can take what they have learned in practice and apply it to a race, that’ll be great.”
The cross country team opened their season with the KSC Alumni Meet on Sept. 1, 2012. But Coach Thomas said he is most looking forward to a meet at Conn. College on Oct. 13.
Thomas said, “We should be able to show what we are capable of by then.”
Thomas also said that he thinks team unity is his team’s biggest strength this year which will help them compete in big meets.
“They seem to be a very tight knit group. They are all pulling in the same direction,” Thomas said.
Paquette agreed, saying, “Running as a pact is our biggest strength. We have the potential to run together in meets. If we can run together in a big race, we will do very well.”
Coach Pete Thomas said he hopes to see a great performance at their next, very difficult, meet.
The next meet for the Owls is the U-Mass. Invitational on Sept. 15, 2012.
On Sept. 29, KSC cross country will host the KSC Invitational.
Women’s Cross Country
The Keene State College women’s cross country team is looking to fill a few gaps in its roster this season.
But head coach Peter Thomas said the team is looking good so far.
“We had a lot of holes. We lost Paige Mills, the number one runner, Andrea Walsh, number two and Sarah Titus, the number three runner,” Thomas said.
[singlepic id=1111 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Moving into the number one spot this season is senior Maggie Fitter. She is accompanied by an array of talent, some young, some old.
Thomas said, “Maggie Fitter stepped into the lead role as the number one runner. Marie Whitney, who was the seventh girl on last year’s team did very well. We had some new people step up, Kaitlin Wheeler, a freshman. We have very good depth. It was an exciting group to see race.”
Wheeler was given the “Runner of the Week” award for the Little East Conference because of her performance in the KSC Alumni Meet on Sept. 1, 2012.
“This year is different than years in the past. We used to have a couple girls that were front runners. But now we have a bunch of girls that balanced out the team,” Fitter said.
Fitter added, “Our top five can run together. Instead of being spread out, all five of us can run together. It’s really helpful in races to know where your teammates are. “
Thomas said that he feels confident in his team after watching them race in their first meet.
“We are off to a really good start and hopefully we can continue to duplicate those results,” Thomas said.
But Coach Thomas also said that he thinks only time will tell how successful the teams will be. He said if they continue to train at this rate, they should be fine.
The first Little East Conference meet will be held on Oct. 27 in Westfield, Mass.
The Keene State College field hockey team is coming off one of their best seasons ever.
They ended last season at the NCAA Division III field hockey championships with a loss to Bowdoin College, 4-0 in the second round.
[singlepic id=1113 w=320 h=240 float=right]
This year, the Lady Owls were picked first in the Little East Conference field hockey preseason poll.
But this team is looking a little different than last years team. The team graduated their number one scorer, Elizabeth Coffin. Other major offensive machines, Alyce Ferenc, Jackie Benson, Niki Smith and Aislynn Sherry also graduated.
But head field hockey coach, Amy Watson stays optimistic about the possibilities for her team this season.
“We lost seven seniors and six of them were four year players. So we had to bring some kids in to beef up our line up a little bit. It’s early to tell if it worked. We have only had a few games,” Coach Amy Watson said.
Watson added, “But we have some good talent in that freshman class.”
Watson said she feels confident in her returning goaltender, sophomore Caitlin Davino-Draper.
But Watson’s real concerns lie in offensive production.
Last year’s second leading scorer, behind All-LEC forward Elizabeth Coffin, senior Kalin Billert said, “Luckily we have a lot of returners from last year. So I think we are just going to continue the same work ethic we had last fall. We take our program really serious, and we dedicate a lot of time to it.”
Although every game is important, Watson said the Little East Conference games are most important.
But before they can compete in LEC play, they have a few more non-conference matches to win.
“The conference games are huge and we have 11 of them. Every conference game is a big game for us,” Watson said.
The first LEC competition for the Keene State College Lady Owls will be against the University of Southern Maine on Sep. 22, 2012 at USM.
Head Volleyball coach, Bob Weiner, stressed that his offseason included “rebuilding, rebuilding and more rebuilding.”
A very inexperienced Lady Owls team takes the court this season. After graduating three All-LEC players in Bridget O’Bryant, Ellyse Davis and Laurie Whalen, the team looks to replace major holes in their line up.
Weiner said, “The entire off-season was about rebuilding. I only have four returning players. That’s huge. College sports don’t turn over that quickly.”
[singlepic id=1117 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Along with the six seniors who graduated last May, five young woman decided not to return for this season.
“It was a huge rebuild, bottom line,” Coach Weiner said.
The Owls were picked fourth in the LEC preseason poll. But Weiner said he has not lost confidence in the ability for his team to perform.
“This is the most athletic group we’ve had. In whatever sport these guys choose to play, they’ll be good at it. They can run fast, they can jump high, they are agile,” Weiner said.
Athleticism will help this team stay close in matches throughout the season.
The Lady Owls have struggled so far this season, losing five of their first seven matches. But Weiner said he remains optimistic.
“I love this group. They’re going to be a very, very good team. They aren’t yet but we are still trying to figure it out. And you can’t do that in 14 days of practice,” Weiner said.
Weiner also stressed the importance of Little East Conference matches this season.
Weiner added that the team’s non-conference schedule was made in order to prepare the young team for LEC play.
The Lady Owls will open their Little East Conference play with a match against Rhode Island College on Sept. 15, 2012.
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com