DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Keene State sophomore Taylor Farland (Fiskdale, Mass.) launched a free kick from midfield in the 77th minute just over the head of the UMass Dartmouth keeper to clinch a 1-0 victory on the road Tuesday evening. With the victory, the Owls advance to the Little East Conference Championship semifinals on Thursday.
Keene State, the No. 5 seed on the LEC Tournament, will see semifinal play for the 16th-straight year, all under 22nd-year head coach Denise Lyons. The Owls have reached the semifinals since the inception of the tournament in 1999.
With the loss, UMass Dartmouth closes the season at 7-7-2 (3-2-2 LEC) with lone senior Megan Cole (Mansfield, Mass.) graduating on first year head coach Kate Thomas' 23-woman roster.
The game began as a back-and-forth affair, with both teams trading shots. At the end of the first half, the fourth-seeded Corsairs held the advantage in tries, 4-1. UMass Dartmouth's chief scoring opportunity came in the 26th minute, as junior forward Talia D'Ambruoso (Warwick, R.I.) fired a free kick from 20 yards out, narrowly missing high and hitting the crossbar above KSC keeper Danielle Warhall (Spofford, N.H.).
The Corsairs earned two more opportunities to close out the first stanza, as junior Lucy Jensen (Boxborough, Mass.) saw a shot blocked by a defender and sophomore Abby Silva (Fall River, Mass.) narrowly missed wide right.
The second half was all Keene State offensively, as the Owls reversed the tide with four shots to UMD's two. Farland's score, her team-leading ninth of the year, came on the Owls' first shot of the half. Keene State saw another prime chance in the 82nd minute, as freshman Patricia Norton (Hampton, Conn.) got loose on a breakaway; UMD keeper Madison Boucher (Southampton, Mass.) was there to make a diving stop right in front of the net.
Warhall, who has earned all 13 of KSC's victories this year, needed no saves to seal the game for her team. On the opposite end, Boucher registered two saves, both in the second half.
Norton paced the Owl offense with two shots, while UMass Dartmouth freshman Courtney Hewitt (North Attleboro, Mass.) footed three tries on the evening.
Keene State advances to meet the top-seeded Eastern Connecticut Warriors in Mansfield, Conn. on Thursday at 2 p.m. The Owls face a tough task as ECSU posted a perfect 7-0 conference slate and has won its last six outings.