2018-19 In Review: Field Hockey Captures A Sixth Straight LEC Title

2018-19 In Review: Field Hockey Captures A Sixth Straight LEC Title

KEENE, N.H.--During the summer of 2019, the Keene State College Department of Athletics and Recreation will review some of the top moments of the recently ended school year, celebrating the achievements of our student-athletes and teams.

At No. 2, another title for the dominant KSC field hockey team.

Keene State had not always been the No. 1 seed through their run of the previous five titles, but they had always won the championship game on their home turf.   In fact, in all of the Owls previous titles, the Owls had played at home.    But in 2019, that changed, thanks to a 5-4, double-overtime loss to LEC newcomer Castleton University on the final day of the regular season that handed the Spartans the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

In the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State, the Owls  outshot Bridgewater State University 15-1 in the opening half on their way to a dominant 4-0 victory.  Bridgewater goalie Allison Chappell stopped a pair of quick-fire attempts from Erica Stauffer and Ally McCall at 11:57, but Kelsey Roberts cashed in just 15 seconds later as KSC led 1-0.  Julia Babbitt recorded the assist on that tally for her 100th collegiate point.  The opportunities continued to flow for the Owls, and they were on the board again about eight minutes later when leading scorer Nina Bruno sent home another feed from Babbitt. 

That score did not last much longer, however, as Erica Stauffer found the back of the cage for a 3-0 lead in the 48th minute.  Bruno's second goal of the contest and 29th of the season in the 62nd minute set the final margin.

In the semifinals, the Owls held off Southern Maine with a pair of late first-half goals from Roberts and Bruno, while Loseby made six saves.   Roberts cemented the win with her second goal of the game after the Huskies had pulled a goal back.

That put the Owls into the final and a rematch with the Spartans.

Behind the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Ally McCall, the Keene State offense was on the attack all day while the defense held the Spartans without a shot for the final 37:59 of the contest.  It was not much longer after that before KSC was on the board.  Following another Bruno corner, Stauffer tipped in McCall's feed for a 1-0 lead at the 14:20 mark.  Castleton answered quickly off a corner of their own.  In the 20th minute, Allison Lowell initiated the chance and Gabrielle Ryan cashed in as the Spartans evened the score on their first shot attempt of the game.  

The second half was all Owls, but it remained tied until the 54th minute, as Pashby-Rockwood stopped Bruno twice in quick succession in the 41st minute and four other KSC chances were off the mark or blocked.  The pressure continued, as Babbitt's corner at 50:34 resulted in a shot that went wide and Roberts' corner at 52:28 ended up in a McCall shot being blocked.  Keene State then broke through, taking the lead less than a minute later when Babbitt forced a turnover and beat Pashby-Rockwood one on one for a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.  

That proved to be the game winner, as the Owls stifled Castleton over the remainder of the contest, not allowing them another shot, which included when the Spartans played the final 2:34 with the goalie pulled.

Heading to the NCAA tournament, Keene State hosted SUNY New Paltz in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, where the Owls recovered from a 3-1 halftime deficit for a 4-3 win, before bowing out to eventual national champion Middlebury College in the second round.