MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Keene State College women's lacrosse team ended a four-game streak of futility against Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday in the final Little East Conference regular-season game for both teams, 19-9, at Rick McCarthy Field.
The loss sends Eastern (3-14, 2-5 LEC) into the conference playoffs on a four-game losing streak. With only its second win this year on its opponents' home field, Keene (7-7, 4-3 LEC) ends the regular season with wins in three of its last four games following a three-game losing streak.
Eastern is the No. 5 seed in the upcoming conference playoffs – giving it a first-round road game Tuesday. The Warriors face a return engagement with Keene State College, which earned the No. 4 seed with the victory.
Defending LEC playoff champion Plymouth State secured its second straight unbeaten conference season and No. 1 playoff berth with a 13-11 win over host Castleton University Saturday. The Panthers will host the semifinals and final Friday and Saturday at Arold. Plymouth defeated Eastern in last year's championship game.
Saturday, Keene got goals from four different players – with three of them also adding an assist in that run – to race to a 4-0 lead five minutes into play and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Four times in the game, Eastern managed to score consecutively, after trailing by four, seven, eight and nine goals, respectively, but Keene countered with runs of five straight (to move out to a 9-2 lead midway through the first half) and twice, four in a row.
Freshman Brigid Casey netted three of her four goals – including her 50th of the year – in the final 15 minutes to prevent the Warriors from a last-ditch rally. For Keene – the second-highest-scoring team in the LEC -- senior Chelsea Lewis contributed to six goals and senior Emily Parker to five. Lewis scored twice and set up four others with assists – all in the first half – and Parker had three goals and two assists.
Behind junior Tess Masci and Casey, the Owls held a significant 19-11 advantage in draw controls. Masci scooped up nine to go along with chipping in five ground balls, three caused turnovers, two (free-position) goals and an assist. Casey won six draws.
Eastern, which closed out with a 2-5 home record, got four goals from junior Madison Renaud (Somers) – the team leader with 36 after totaling just eight in her first two seasons – three from first-year sophomore Sydney Hogan (Northford) and two goals and an assist from junior Tristan Kijak (Windsor). Kijak and freshman Aiyana Ward (Waterford) each won three draws and Kijak led the Warriors with four ground balls.
Sophomore Joanna Steinhauer (Middletown, RI) made nine save for Keene and senior Jessica Purick (Riverhead, NY) had ten.