KEENE, N.H. -- The eighth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team kept Little East Conference scoring leader Sami Smith from repeating her offensive exploits in top-seeded Keene State College's regular-season victory, but the Warriors couldn't stop the defending conference champions from rolling into the semifinal round of the conference playoffs.
After Smith – last year's LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year – scored three times in the Owls' 5-1 regular-season victory over Eastern three weeks ago at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex, the Warriors survived 11 shots by Smith Saturday but couldn't avoid elimination from the playoffs by Keene for the third straight year, 4-1, at the Owl Athletic Complex.
Eastern (7-10) was outshot by a wide margin (13-1) in the first half but trailed by just a goal in the first minute of the second half before Keene (18-3) reverted to scoring mode to extend its winning streak to 12.
Averaging nearly five goals a match, Keene found the back of the cage twice in less than three minutes to open up a 3-0 lead four minutes into the second half. After senior Paige Schneider's (East Lyme) sixth goal of the year made it 3-1, sophomore Julia Babbitt collected her second goal of the match – 12th of the season – to make it a three-goal game with 12 minutes left.
Schneider and goalie Samantha Scavo (Redding) were among nine Eastern seniors who ended their careers with the loss. Scavo made six saves before junior Maddie LaRusso (Enfield) kept Keene off the board without making a save over the final nine minutes.
Scavo departs the program ranked first all-time in five categories: appearances (69), starts (65), goals-against average (1.61), wins (33) and shutouts (16).