On Saturday, the top-seeded Keene State field hockey team took on the No. 8 seed Eastern Connecticut State University in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Little East Conference (LEC) championship at the Keene State Athletic Complex.
The lady Owls got off to a slow start rolling down the field with a few scoring opportunities from senior Sami Smith, missing wide of the net and first-year Hannah Cook, missing a shot early in the game. The Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU)defensive players Alexandra Steward and Katy Jankura made defensive saves to hold the top-seeded Owls scoreless. It wouldn’t be until almost halftime when Keene State’s top scorer Sami Smith gave an assist to first-year Jensyn Dandeneau for Dandeneu’s 12th goal of the season. The Owls would roll right down field again before the half with a chance to score from first-year Hannah Cook, but she was denied by the ECSU Warrior’s goalie Samantha Scavo. The Owls and the Warriors would negotiate with their teams at the half to discuss their game plans.
In the second half, the Owls came out with a “burning passion” as sophomore Julia Babbitt scored less than two minutes into the second half. Sophomore Mia Brickley would assist Babbitt on the goal to make it a 2-0 lead on the Warriors. The Owls would continue to push through when senior Kayla Renaud scored a minute later, making the Owls take a cruising 3-0 lead over the Warriors.
The second half continued with a 3-0 game, when later on the Owls got a chance to take a penalty stroke for the Warriors mistake and penalty call. Junior Casi Smith would be called upon to take her first stroke of the season and KSC’s stroke against the Warriors. Samantha Scavo denied Smith’s shot at the 45 minute mark.
The ECSU Warriors would not give up on their chances to score, when almost five minutes later the Warriors broke up the shutout by a goal scored by Paige Schneider to make it a 3-1 game. The Owls scored their final goal of the day as Julia Babbitt scored her second goal and 12th of the season from an assist by Smith.
The Owls closed out the game with a 4-1 final, giving the Owls a chance to move onto the next round in the LEC Championship and giving the Warriors a respectable end to their season.
Keene State will host the semifinals at home against the winner of the No. 4 seed Fitchburg State University and the No. 5 seed and rival Plymouth State University. The lady Owls now hold an 18-3 record and hold four of the top 10 goal scorers in the LEC, with leading scorer senior Sami Smith (32), sophomore Erica Stauffer (16), sophomore Julia Babbitt (12) and first-year Jensyn Dandeneau (12).
Travis Thoutte can be contacted at Tthoutte@kscequinox.com