Keene State College Field Hockey is battling rivals UMass-Dartmouth and Bridgewater State for the number one seed in LEC playoffs starting next week.
The field hockey team is tied for second place with Bridgewater State. UMass-Dartmouth is undefeated so far this season, with a 9-0 record. The Owls fell to UMass-Dartmouth, 3-1 on Saturday, Oct. 20.
They now hope to win their games on Oct. 25 against non-conference Smith College and their final game of the regular season against Framingham State, on Saturday, Oct. 27. After coming off a record-breaking season last year, winning the LEC and continuing onto Nationals, the Owls hope to repeat this again this season.
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“We had won five Little East Conference championships in a row up until 2010, we lost to them [UMass-Dartmouth] in the conference finals and ence and they moved on, and that was the first time we hadn’t won it in five years, and last year we went back and won it so it’s definitely been a rival back and forth, competition between the two of us. We don’t really go up against something we’re not ready for,” Assistant Coach Carole Kinsella said.
Watson said all the remaining games are important games. “All of those teams are in tournament contention so we really need to take care of all of them,” Watson said. Watson explained they don’t know who they’ll be facing in the playoffs, but they are ready for anything. “Our number one
priority obviously is to win the rest of our games, but then after that, we won’t know who we will be paired up against.” Kinsella said.
“If we are at home we’re on that fast astro-turf, and if we’re on the road, all the schools I believe in the conference, one team plays on grass, and everybody else play on a turf field,” Kinsella continued. Kinsella said the girls know what’s at stake.
“We just need to take each opponent one game at a time, and play our best, and just keep getting better. We can’t peak right now,” Coach Watson said.
The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) joins the LEC in field hockey, every year. Usually the LEC consists of eight teams, but a few of the normal Little East schools don’t have field hockey and so the MASCAC schools joined in, bringing the total number of contesting schools to 12.
“We have 12 teams in our conference and eight of those teams will compete in the conference tournament. It makes for a big tournament,” Watson said.
“A lot of the other sports have like four teams or six teams that go into their conference tournament and we take eight, so at that time of year anything can happen, and the first and second place teams don’t get a bye, whereas for some of the other teams, like soccer, and basketball, the top teams get a bye,” Watson continued.
Hannah Gage, a junior on the team, is trying to stay focused for the tournament, but said she can’t get caught up in past or future games.
In the tournament, Gage said not having a bye week because of the MASCAC conference, “might even help us, just because if we wind up being first or even second, you tend to play some of the weaker teams that make playoffs.”
Aimee Donaruma, another junior player, said the team is going to continue to practice hard giving 100 percent even in in practices so they are ready for the games ahead.
“The worst thing we could do is look ahead to future game. We have to concentrate on whatever game we have next and just try to beat that team and then think about the next team after that,” Donaruma said.
Meaghan Dwyer, a freshman on the team, said there’s a lot more to college field hockey than in high school. “It’s kind of tough but as soon as you adjust to it, it’s a lot of adjusting and a lot of change over a short amount of time,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said the team is going to practice hard for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs. “Tough practicing, and continuing what we are doing. And being well prepared for who we are about to play,” Dwyer said. “Take it day by day.”
“If we win the conference, we get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the national tournament, which is 32 teams in the country out of I think 160 schools. Last year we won the conference, went to the national tournament, won the first round, lost in the second round to Bowdoin, who the year before I think had won the national championship,” Kinsella said.
“If we win the LEC playoffs, we go onto NCAAs, like we did last year which is the national tournament, and from there’s first round, second round, third round, and then semifinals and then the national champions,” Donaruma said.
The KSC field hockey team takes on Framingham State on Oct. 27, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
Brandon Chabot can be contacted