The game that the Little East Conference (LEC) field hockey team dubbed their “Game of the Season” lived up to the hype between two evenly matched in-state rivals.
Keene State and Plymouth State both came into Tuesday night’s game with top five nationally ranked offenses. Keene State is ranked first with 4.87 goals per game and Plymouth is ranked fourth with 4.50 goals per game.
The two offensive-minded teams did not look offensive for most of the game, and it was clear from the start that it would be a defensive battle.
Plymouth controlled the tempo for most of the first half with a staggering defensive attack that did not allow Keene State to have the ball on offense very often. The Panther defenders would intercept virtually every pass that came in their direction, frustrating the Owls.
Plymouth got on the board first with a goal from Katie Martin off a penalty stroke about seven minutes into the game.
Keene State started to gain momentum toward the end of the first half and the Owls were finally able to get the ball on offense. Moments after a penalty corner attempt from the Owls, Marita Brothers was able to find the back of the cage just five minutes before the half to tie things up going into halftime.
The second half was a much different story; the Owls finally broke through and were in control from start to finish, scoring the last goal.
After numerous shots on goal saved by Panther’s goalie Alivia Bates, Kendal Brown was finally able to break the tie and give the Owls the lead for good.
Just 10 minutes later, Sami Smith scored on her fourth shot attempt on goal to give her an NCAA leading 28th goal of the season.
Two minutes after that, first-year Jensyn Dandeneau put in her eighth goal of the season to secure the 4-1 victory.
With the win, Keene State is now 13-3 and a perfect 8-0 in LEC play. Their next game is Saturday at home against UMass Dartmouth for senior day.
Mike Miezejeski can be contacted at Mmiezejeski@kscequinox.com
KSC field hockey dominated UMass Dartmouth in their final home game of the season at the Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday.
On top of being the final home game of the regular season for the Owls, it was also senior day. The team kicked off the game by recognizing the five seniors on the squad: Sami Smith, Kayla Renaud, Paige Hefferan, Marita Brothers and Brittney Cardente.
Scoring for the matchup didn’t take place until late in the first half, when first-year forward Hannah Cook netted one in for the first goal of the game and her third of the season.
Shortly after Cook’s goal, KSC senior forward Sami Smith was able to find the back of the net off a penalty corner to quickly bring the Owl’s lead to two goals.
At the end of the half, Smith scored again off another penalty corner, bringing the Owls to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first half.
The goal scoring didn’t stop after the first half. Fifty-four seconds into the second half, Smith got the hat trick and a record breaking goal off a redirected pass from Brittney Cardente. This goal broke the record for the most goals scored in a single season.
The UMass Dartmouth Corsairs shortly answered Smith’s goal with another scored by Delaney Burns, eliminating the shutout.
Just two minutes after Dartmouth’s only goal, Kayla Renaud scored her fourth goal of the year to bring the Owls to a 6-1 win.
“They beat us last year and we went undefeated in the conference except for that game,” said Smith. “We really wanted this game and really wanted to show them that last year was an ‘oops’ and that we deserve to win and be champions again.”
The field hockey seniors hope to continue the rest of the season undefeated in conference play and claim their fourth straight Little East Conference Championship.
“I’m really grateful for being a part of this team and for having the teammates that I do,” said Smith. “Without them, none of this would ever happen.”
Justin Mahan can be contacted at Jmahan@kscequinox.com