KEENE, N.H. - The top-seeded Keene State College field hockey team captured its fifth straight Little East Conference Championship and seventh overall Saturday afternoon with a 4-0 victory over rival and second-seeded Plymouth State University at Owl Athletic Complex.
Keene State (18-5) earns the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championships. The pairings will be announced on Sunday night. Plymouth State had its eight-game winning streak and dropped to 13-7 overall and awaits a possible ECAC tournament berth, which will be announced on Monday.
KSC won the championship the past four years as well as in 1998 and 1999. The Owls also advanced to the finals in 2003 and 2000. KSC has an all-time record of 22-4 in LEC tournament play.
Junior midfielder Erin Dallas (Marlow, N.H.), who was named the tournament's MVP for the second year in a row, led KSC to the win with a two goals and an assist. Last season, she scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Owls defeated Southern Maine 2-1.
Freshman Elizabeth Coffin (Sugar Hill, N.H.) gave KSC a 1-0 lead at the 6:45 mark when she tipped a shot by junior midfielder Lindy Caslin (Bennington, Vt.) past PSU goalie Elyse Sedgley (Hopkinton, N.H.) for her fourth goal of the season.
The Owls added to their lead just before the end of the half on a picture-perfect pass play that was finished off by senior back Alyssa Rowell (Queensbury, N.Y.). Junior forward Carly Benning (Brewster, Mass.) and Dallas had assists on the play.
KSC put the game out of reach with a pair of insurance goals early in the second half. Dallas blasted a shot from five-yards out to make it a 3-0 game at the 40:17 mark. Four minutes later, Dallas netted her second of the game, and 12th of the season when she knocked in a crossing ball from senior back Samantha Blanchard (Amesbury, Mass.), who finished the game with a pair of assists.
KSC out shot PSU 14-4 and had a 13-3 margin on corner opportunities.
Owl junior goalie Vikki Stoessel (Derry, N.H.) stopped two shots to notch her sixth shutout of the season. Sedgley finished the game with five saves for the Panthers.
This is the fifth time rivals Keene State and Plymouth State have hooked up in the LEC championship game. The Owls defeated the Panthers in 1998 (3-1), 1999 (1-0), and 2004 (2-0). Plymouth defeated Keene State 1-0 in the 2000 final.
(Courtesy of Keene State Sports Information)
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