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Plymouth State Soccer eyes Keene State

(Courtesy of Keene State Sports Information)

            KEENE, N.H. - Keene State men's and women's soccer teams won't have to wait long to face their rivals this season.  Both teams will open up their Little East Conference schedule against Plymouth State University on Saturday.

            The Keene State men will host the Panthers at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday (1 p.m.) while the Owl women travel to Plymouth State for a 4:30 p.m. game.

            "It's always tough to start against Plymouth in the conference, but at some point we have to play them," said KSC men's coach Ron Butcher.  "They've had our number the last couple of years. It's always nice to say let's play the doormat, but I'm not sure there is a doormat in the conference this year."

            The Keene State men enter the game with a 2-3 record.  The Owls, who dropped a 2-0 non-conference game to Wheaton College last Saturday, have had a week off to prepare for PSU.  KSC has faced a double-edge sword in the early going, trying to incorporate freshmen into the line-up while battling a series of injuries. First-year forwards Shawn Shand (Keene, N.H.) and Joe Senecal (Manchaug, Mass.) top the Owls in scoring with two goals each while senior Peter Kersker (Ipswich, Mass.) (.82 SV%, 1.75 GAA) has been steady in goal.

            Plymouth State brings a perfect 4-0 record into Saturday's game.  The Panthers opened their season by capturing the Roger Williams Classic and followed up the championship with non-conference wins over Salem State and Bridgewater State. Senior Semir Mehmedovic leads PSU in scoring with five goals and 11 points.  Freshman Bjorn Ohlsson (.909 SV%, 0.50 GAA), the LEC goalie of the week, has shined between the pipes with four shutouts.

            Keene State leads the overall series 31-28-6 and holds a slim 10-7 advantage in the LEC.  The two teams have met three times (1999, 2001, and 2006) in the LEC championship game with the Owls prevailing each time.  However, Plymouth has won three of the last four meetings, including regular season victories in 2007 (4-1) and 2008 (3-2).

            On the other side of the ledger, the Keene State women have dominated play against the Panthers, posting a 14-0-1 mark in the last 15 games; including 4-0 shutout wins in the regular season and quarterfinals of the LEC tournament last fall.  KSC owns a 20-6-3 mark in the overall series and leads in LEC play 15-1-1.

            The Owls, who enter Saturday's game with a 4-2 record, had a modest two game winning streak snapped on Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to Tufts.  Katie Bradford (Lebanon, N.H.) and Tara Nathan (Bethel, Conn.) lead the Owls offense with four goals each.  Sophomore Megan Dempsey (East Weymouth, Mass.) (.833 SV%, 0.78 GAA) has seen the bulk of the action in goal for the team. 

            "I like the way we're playing as we start our Little East schedule," said KSC Coach Denise Lyons.  "We've had our share of success against Plymouth of late, but anything can happen when two rivals get together."

            Plymouth State (2-1-1) saw its two game winning streak come to an end with a tough 1-0 loss to Colby-Sawyer on Tuesday. Lauren Lavery and Rebecca Wilson each have four goals to lead the Panthers in scoring.  Sophomore Angelina LaBroad (.812 SV%, 0.86 GAA) is the team's top goalie.

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