WORCESTER, Mass. - Tournament Most Outstanding Player Rachel Hopkins scored a hat trick, including a tally 45 seconds in, as Worcester State University started quickly, and the Keene State College field hockey team never recovered, losing to the Lancers 6-0 in the Little East Tournament championship game Saturday afternoon at Coughlin Field.
- Keene State: 15-8
- Worcester State: 18-4
How It Happened
No. 2 seed Keene State, which had won the Little East title in each of the past six seasons, never got on track against the tournament's top seed, as they surrendered two goals in the opening 7:26 and never recovered, only generating three shots on goal in the game. The Lancers opened the scoring after they were awarded a corner 35 seconds in, which Olivia Antonelli began and passed in to Sarah Duff, who then found Hopkins for a 1-0 lead. WSU doubled their advantage in the eighth minute after another corner play. The initial shot as a result was blocked, but Alexa Bobbin was there to slide home the rebound for a two-goal lead. Following a green card on the hosts' Lexie Panagiotopoulos, the Owls found some true offensive chances for the first time, but Lancers keeper Jess Hopkins stopped shots from leading scorers Nina Bruno and Kayla Klein 12 seconds apart late in the first quarter.
Leading 2-0 after one, Worcester State tacked on another just 2:48 into the second after Antonelli scored on a penalty stroke, sliding the ball past Jordan LaRaus, who replaced Rachel Loseby for the attempt. Loseby reentered after and stopped two more WSU shots in the final ten minutes of the second. KSC was outshot 8-0 in the second 15 minutes and found themselves down 3-0 at halftime.
The Owls had a chance right out of the locker room, but Maggie Cahoon's shot shortly after a corner was stopped by Jess Hopkins, and the Lancers put the game away after that, scoring twice in 3:31. Rachel Hopkins scored again at the 37:25 mark, her second of the game, and was followed by a goal from Duff, who found the back of the cage off another corner feed from Bobbin. Hopkins completed the hat trick just 49 seconds into the fourth to set the final margin, and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after finishing with eight goals, including the game winner in all three games, and two assists. WSU defeated UMass-Dartmouth 7-0 and Southern Maine 3-2 in overtime in the first two rounds.
Loseby (13-7) took the loss, stopping four of nine shots. Worcester's Jess Hopkins needed to make three stops for the shutout, improving to 18-4.
- Worcester State's only previous title game appearance came when they lost to Plymouth State University in 2001.
- The loss ends the careers of five Owl seniors: LaRaus, Ally McCall, Hailey Beaupre, Erica Chareth, and Kelsey Roberts. The group finishes with an overall record of 68-28, three Little East championships, and two NCAA tournament second round appearances. Individually, McCall was just two assists shy of the single-season record this year and finished with 38 in her three years as an Owl, second most on KSC's all-time list. Beaupre made 19 defensive saves over her career, which was tied for the second most on the career list in that category. Her seven as a junior were tied for sixth most in a single-season.
- The Owls won the regular season meeting 3-2 in overtime at Owl Athletic Complex on Klein's penalty stroke, but have lost three out of four overall to the Lancers.
- KSC defeated six different teams during their run of LEC titles (Plymouth State 2-1 in 2013, UMass-Dartmouth 3-1 in 2014, Eastern Connecticut 2-1 in 2015, Southern Maine 5-0 in 2016, Westfield State 9-0 in 2017, and Castleton 2-1 in 2018). The Owls have won the conference tournament 14 times out of a possible 22 seasons.
- Keene State sees their season end. The Owls had made the NCAA tournament every year since 2013.
- Worcester State earns the automatic berth from the Little East Conference and will find out their NCAA tournament matchup tomorrow night.