KEENE, N.H.- The NCAA Men's Soccer tournament comes back to Keene for the first time since 2007, as the Keene State men's soccer team hosts the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, starting on Saturday, November 16 from Dr. Ron Butcher Field. The Owls will welcome the Ithaca College Bombers at 3:30 pm.
Tickets will be sold online prior to the game, as well as at the ticket booth. The ticket booth is set to open an hour and a half prior to kick off. Amherst College and Thomas College kicks off at 1:00 pm, followed by Keene State and Ithaca College at 3:30 pm. To purchase tickets online click here.
Keene State (15-6) enters the tournament after winning the Little East Conference over Eastern Connecticut State 1-0. The Owls pick up their first Little East Conference tournament championship since 2010. Keene State's Emmanuel Smith picked up the only goal of the contest against Eastern Connecticut, picking up a career high 12 goals, which led his team. Smith was named to the Little East Conference All-Conference First Team. The Owls will host the Bombers of Ithaca College, who come into the NCAA Tournament after receiving an at-large bid. Ithaca College (12-5-2) fell in the first round of the Liberty League Championships to Clarkson University. Ithaca has made the NCAA tournament for the 15th time in program history. The Bombers previously made the tournament in 2008, falling to Johns Hopkins 1-0 in OT.
The Owls head coach Rick Scott leads his team into the NCAA tournament for the first time after taking over the program six seasons ago. The 1977 graduate of Keene State College has combined for a successful 60-43-8 record, going 28-12 in his last two seasons at the helm of the Owls. The bench boss of Ithaca College Kyle Dezotell leads the Bombers into the NCAA tournament for his first time as the coach of Ithaca. Dezotell is in his third season with the Bombers, leading them to a 12-5-2 record this season. In three seasons, Dezotell has combined for a 33-15-8 record at the lead of the Bombers. Ithaca is currently ranked 25th in the most recent NCAA poll.
The Owls have been fueled by a balanced attack this season. Junior's Emmanuel Smith (12 goals, 10 assists, 34 points) and Connor Downey (8 goals, 2 assists, 18 points) have been at the lead for the Owls all season. Standout freshman forward James McCully (6 goals, 1 assist, 13 points) has helped the Owls get into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010. Keene State's goaltending has been leading the way to victory as Nate Howard (6 games, 3 starts, 0.52 GAA), and Anthony Pasciuto (14 games, 14 starts, 1.64 GAA) have helped the Owls capture their first conference title since 2010.
Ithaca is driven by their leading scorer Theo Scott (7 goals, 1 assist, 15 points). The Bombers have tremendous scoring depth which includes 15 different goal scorers on their roster. Senior Goalkeeper Max Lichtenstein has played in and started in all 19 games for the Bombers this season, accumulating 62 saves with a GAA of 0.72. Lichtenstein has shut out his opponent in eight out of his 12 wins.
The Earlier Matchup
The two teams have met just once in their program's histories. Ithaca was able to take the win back on September 1, 2007 in the WEGOTSOCCER-Diadora Soccer Showdown, which took place at Keene State College. The Bombers scored four goals in the contest, all by different players. Keene State took the early 1-0 lead, but the Bombers came back with three goals in a row, which was enough to defeat the Owls, 4-2 in the end.
The Rest of the Tournament
The winner of the Keene State/Ithaca College matchup will advance to the second round, where they will face the winner of the afternoon's first game between Amherst College and Thomas College (Me.) which will begin at 1:00 pm from Dr. Ron Butcher Field. The second-round winner will move to the third round of the NCAA tournament at a location to be announced following the game.