KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State men's lacrosse team downed Eastern Connecticut State 24-8 to earn the Owls' fifth straight Little East Conference (LEC) title on Saturday afternoon at the Owl Athletic Complex. The Owls and the Warriors met for the 14th time in the LEC final, with Keene State winning its eighth victory in a championship game over Eastern Connecticut State.
- Keene State: 12-4
- Eastern Connecticut State: 10-7
How It Happened
The Owls raced out toa 3-0 start, as senior Paul Beling connected with senior Jon Nassif, followed by a tally from senior Mitch Hale off a feed from senior Hunter Arnold and an unassisted strike from Nassif with 9:03 on the clock. The Warriors found its first goal of the afternoon at the 7:16 mark, when Samuel Watson finished off a pass from Matthew Rougeot to come within two, but Keene State responded 12 seconds later to extend its lead back to three, as Arnold found the back of the net off a feed from junior JJ Downey. Eastern Connecticut State would score back-to-back goals, cutting their deficit to one, as time expired in the first period with a score of 4-3, Keene State.
The Owls doubled their lead to begin the second stanza off of efforts from Beling and freshman Paxton Blanchard, but the Warriors responded at the 12:10 mark, as Watson found the back of the net off a feed from Tyler Stein in what would be the Warriors' only goal of the period. Keene State finished off the stanza scoring seven unanswered goals to take a 13-4 lead going into the locker rooms.
Watson scored the lone goal for Eastern Connecticut State off a pass from Jacob Testa in the third quarter at the 11:19 mark, as the Owls went on a 5-0 run, capped off by junior Steve Hamel's first goal of the season off a feed from Nassif with 2:56 on the clock to push the score to 18-5, Keene State.
From there, the Owls' lead ballooned to 23-6, before back-to-back goals by the Warriors finished off the scoring for the visitors, as a season first goal from junior Chris Morgan sealed the victory and the title for the Keene State.
Inside the Crease
- Charles Molloy IV was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, as the junior defender totalled nine ground balls, eight caused turnovers and one assist.
- Nassif led the Owls offensively with five goals and one assist, followed by three goals and one assist from Marcella. Molloy picked up eight ground balls and caused five turnovers, as Arnold added two goals, one assist, seven ground balls, and three caused turnovers. Freshman Matthew Lemke went 21-for-27 from the face-off 'x' and grabbed a game-high 10 ground balls.
- For the Warriors, Watson registered a team-high six points with five goals and one assist, while Connor Wyllie added two goals and two ground balls. Tyler Koppy tallied four caused turnovers and three ground balls.
- All four Owls' goalkeepers saw time in net, as senior Mathew Howe earned the start and the win with five saves, followed by sophomore keepers J.J. Tinney with one stop and Cameron Eddy with four saves, along with freshman Chase Chamberlin. For the Warriors, Taylor Huta made 14 stops in 44:08 minutes of play, while Jack Farrell recorded four saves in the remaining 15:52 minutes of play.
- Fifteen different student-athletes scored for the Owls.
- Keene State now holds the most LEC championship titles with nine overall and in regular season titles with 10.
- Keene State earns an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament and will make its ninth overall NCAA appearance. The Owls will find out their opponent for the opening round of the NCAA tournament when selections are announced on Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.