KEENE, N.H. 11/5/10 – Senior midfielder Luke Sisco's (Pine Plains, N.Y.) two first half goals lifted top seed Keene State College to a 2-1 victory over fourth seed UMass-Dartmouth in a Little East Conference men's soccer tournament semifinal game play at Owl Athletic Complex on Friday night.
Winners of five straight, the Owls (13-4-2) will host third seed Rhode Island College in the championship game on Sunday (1 p.m.). After a scoreless double-overtime game, the Anchormen moved on to the finals by defeating second seed Eastern Conn. 5-4 in penalty kicks. UMD goes to 10-6-2.
The victory was twice as nice for the Owls, who had to replay their semifinal match against the Corsairs. After KSC defeated UMD 2-1 on Wednesday, the Corsairs protested the game. The NCAA ruled that an inadvertent whistle just prior to Keene State's first goal should have negated the scoring play.
"Regardless of everyone's emotions about the ruling, we still had to play the game," said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. "The guys said 'coach let's go play."'
Sisco scored both of his goals in the first 11 minutes of the game. Freshman back Preston Ingram (Newport, Vt.) sent at ball into the box that Sisco headed into the net to give the Owls a 1-0 lead at the 4:06 mark. Sisco netted his second of the game and his third of the season six minutes later when he settled a ball in top of the box and drove it past UMD sophomore goalie Kellen Rauch (Ashland, Mass.).
"Our game plan was to come out and fire like we did in the second half on Wednesday, said Sisco. "Luckily, I put two in the back of the net. There's has been a lid on the goal for me all season, so those two felt good."
The Corsairs cut the lead in half with 12 minutes to play in the first half. Taking a crossing ball from junior Chaz Dupuis (Somerset, Mass.), freshman Victor Ferreira (St. Michael, Portugal) flicked a header past KSC junior keeper Paul Blackmer (Boylston, Mass.) at the 33:37 mark.
Disappointed at given up the goal, Blackmer redeemed himself early in the second half with a diving save on a shot by senior Kyle Estrella (Dartmouth, Mass.) who broke in from the left side. "Going into halftime the coaches really gave it to me. They knew I wasn't playing the way I can," said Blackmer, who finished the game with one save. "They told me to play my game and I got the job done in the second half."
The Owls defense shutdown the Corsairs, allowing one shot in the second half. "They're a very talented team offensively, so we just played strong, had a high work ethic and shut them down," said sophomore back Kyle Leavitt (Plymouth, Mass.)
Looking to get a key insurance goal, KSC freshman Scott Douglas (East Greenwich, R.I) used his speed to create several breakaway scoring opportunities late in the game. Flying in from the left side, he was tripped up by Rauch who was issued a red card on the play. He broke in alone two minutes later, but his shot was stopped by sophomore keeper Jon Doucette (Boxford, Mass.), who replaced Rauch in goal.
Keene State had wide 22-4 advantage in shots.
Rauch played the first 83:45 and made seven saves. Doucette stopped one shot.
"These are the game you have to win," said Butcher. "I feel so happy for these kids because the last two days have been crazy. We deserve to be back in the finals."
Keene State will be making its eighth appearance in the LEC finals. They have won five championships (1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2006).