CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University field hockey team's historic 2018 campaign concluded Saturday with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Keene State in the Little East Conference field hockey finals.
The Owls knocked off the LEC newcomer to earn their sixth consecutive conference title. Keene State will advance to the NCAA Division-III National Tournament to represent the LEC.
Castleton ends its season with a record of 15-5, the highest win-total since 2012. The Spartans were ranked 11th in the LEC Preseason Coaches Poll, but rolled off an 11-1 conference record to win the LEC regular season title and the right to host the LEC Final Four. Castleton also featured an 11 game winning streak on its season resume, the longest in program history.
Keene State's Ally McCall was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The defender had one assist in the title game and spearheaded a defensive unit that held the powerful Spartan offense to just four shots.
Julia Babbitt scored the winning goal for Keene State at the 53:23 mark- the only marker of the second half. She forced a turnover deep in Castleton territory before beating Tashia Pashby-Rockwood on a short breakaway.
Keene State opened the scoring at the 14:20 mark on a penalty corner when Erica Stauffer tipped in a shot from the stick of McCall. Nina Bruno, the inserter, also picked up an assist on the goal.
Castleton tied the game when senior Gabrielle Ryan drilled in a shot from the top of the arc on a penalty corner. Allison Lowell had the assist with the insert for the equalizer 4:36 after the opening jab.
The Owls remained committed to the attack and although they did not score for the remainder of the contest, they stifled any chance of a second Castleton equalizer. Keene State did not allow a shot attempt to Castleton, a team that features three of the top-nine goal scorers in the league, in the second half. The Owls ended with a 19-4 edge in shots and out-cornered the host 10-2.
Pashby-Rockwood made three saves for the Spartans, while Rachel Loseby turned aside one shot. The freshman backstop surrendered just two goals in the tournament, as the Owls outscored their three opponents 9-2 on their path to the title.