May 3, 2013

LEC Tournament: Owls down Panthers 19-9; Advance to finals on Sunday

          KEENE, N.H. 5/3/13 – For the 10th time in the past 11 years, the Keene State College men's lacrosse team is headed back to the Little East Conference Championship game.

          Top seeded Keene State stamped its ticket to the finals with a 19-9 win over fourth seed Plymouth State University at Owl Athletic Complex on Friday.  The Owls (14-2), winners of eight straight games, will take on longtime rival Eastern Conn. State University in Sunday's championship game (3 p.m.) at Owl Athletic Complex.  The second seeded Warriors (9-7) advanced to the finals with a 23-4 win over sixth seed Western Conn. in their semifinal game.

          It will be the 10th time the two teams have met in the finals. KSC has won four times (2005, 2007, 2010, and 2011) while the Warriors have come out on top five times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012).  Last season, ECSU edged the Owls 13-10.

          Seniors Taylor Wicke (Fairfield, Conn.) and Taylor Jette (Simsbury, Conn.) each had five goals to lead the Owls.  Seniors Sean McEvoy (Spring, Tx.) and Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) and junior Chris Annunciata (Waltham, Mass.) finished with two goals each to lead the Panthers.

          It took a while for Keene State to get going on Friday against Plymouth State (9-5).  The first quarter featured two lead changes and four ties.  After McEvoy put the Panthers up 4-3, KSC answered with the next two goals with senior JT Galloway (Simsbury, Conn.) and freshman Tyler McKelvie (Acton, Mass.) scoring to give KSC a 5-4 lead. Sophomore Nick Morrello (North Billerica, Mass.) scored with 43 seconds left to play in the first quarter to tie the game (5-5).

          The Owls took control from there, scoring the first four goals of the second quarter to take a 9-5 lead.  "We came out a little flat and it took us a little while to get going," said Jette, who also had a couple of assists in the game. "We then started to play the type of offense that Keene State has played all year, creating our tempo. That's when we started taking over and taking control."

          After Wicke and junior Tajh Russell (Agawam, Mass.) scored goals in a span of 47 seconds, Jette netted a pair of unassisted goals, including one during a man-down situation, to give KSC the four goal lead.

          The two teams trade goals the rest of the quarter. Annunciata scored with 1:58 to go to make it an 11-8 game at halftime.

          KSC scored three consecutive goals to start the third quarter to extend its lead to 14-8.  Galloway scored his third goal of the game to complete the flurry. 

          Sophomore C.J. Frates (Merrimack, N.H.) scored the final goal of the quarter, cutting the Owls' lead to 14-9 at the end of the quarter.

          Keene State put the game away by scoring five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.  Wicke scored two of his five goals in the final quarter for Keene State.

          McKevie had two goals and an assist and senior Ian Hart (Richmond, N.H.) added a goal and two assists.  Joe Purdon (Wrentham, Mass.) also notched a couple of assists for KSC.

          Freshman Alex Sharp (Winchester, Mass.) finished the game with eight saves for the Owls.  Freshman Bobby Noonan (Guilford, Conn.) started in goal for the Panthers and made five save in his 41:29 between the pipes.  Junior Jesse Kutz (Hopkinton, Mass.) played the rest of the way and stopped two saves.

          Keene State outshot PSU 46-34 and won the battle in the face-off circle 21-11.

          The Owls will now get set for a rematch against Eastern Conn. "I've been on the team for four years and we've met Eastern in the finals every time," said Jette. "It should be another great game and hopefully we get the win."