(Courtesy of Stuart Kaufman, Keene State SID)
KEENE, N.H. – For the second consecutive year, the Little East Conference field hockey championship belongs to Keene State College.
Kelly Smith’s goal seven minutes and fifty-seven seconds in the first overtime lifted the Owls to a 1-0victory over rival Plymouth State College, giving KSC the 1999 title in a game played Sunday at the Owl Complex. It was the second straight overtime-winner for Smith, the Tournament MVP, who sent KSC into the championship with a game-winner in OT against UMass Dartmouth on Saturday.
The winning goal, Smith’s 16th of the season, was set up by a lead pass from Melissa Harnch-Smith. “We had a breakaway and Melissa made a nice pass to me,” said Smith,a junior forward from Lisbon, N.H. “I was open and I hit it hard and fortunately it went in.”
“After yesterday’s game, I was pretty tired,” added Smith, “but I wanted to find a way to be in the play to get us the win.”
“It was very appropriate that Kelly got the winner,” said KSC coach Amy Watson. “She was all over the field today.”
The top seed in the tournament, Keene State had all it could handle in the early going from the Panthers, who tested Owl goalie Lindsay Hamilton on several occasions. Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine) was stopped on a pair of corner opportunities and Ang Grady (Medway, Mass.) had a shot from the right side that just missed the far post.
Plymouth State adapted well to playing on KSC’s turf field. “Our style of play is conducive to turf. We’re happy to play on it,” said PSC coach Abby Burbank, whose team finishes the season at 7-11. “It was a great championship game. Both teams played well throughout the game and that was great to see.”
“You put these two teams on the field and it doesn’t matter what the records are, you’re going to get a great game,” added Watson.
The statistics indicated the closeness of the game. PSC had a slim 12-11 advantage in shots and had a 15 to 10 advantage in penalty corners.
Both goalies came up with big saves throughout the game. Hamilton had nine saves for the Owls while PSC sophomore Martha Dennerly (Concord, NH) finished with five saves.
Four PSC players were named to the All-Tournament team – Fournier, senior Jill Sutherland (Rockport,Mass.), junior Jaci Harradon (Yarmouth, Maine) and sophomore Katie Dodge (Sanbornton, NH).
Plymouth State, the third seed in the tournament, advanced to the championship game with a 4-0 upset victory over second seeded Southern Maine Saturday at Keene, getting goals from four different players. USM had defeated PSC during the regular season, 1-0.
The Panthers scored two goals in each half. Sutherland and Nicole Lauriat (Greenfield, Mass.) scored first-half goals, and Fournier and Kristle Wheeler (Brandon, VT) tallied second-half insurance markers for PSC.
Dennerly made three saves, and Lindsey Breda (Londonderry, NH) made one stop playing the final eight minutes to share the shutout for PSC.