WATERVILLE, Maine – As the Castleton University women's lacrosse team prepares for a road game at Keene State Tuesday, March 27, starting at 7 p.m., junior Erin McKenna has been named the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Defensive Player of the Week, announced Monday by the league office.
McKenna played a significant role in the Castleton defense as the Spartans held both of their opponents to single-digit goal totals last week. In an 11-6 win at Norwich, the junior collected three ground balls and helped hold the Cadets to just six goals. She left the game in the first half after an injury, but returned in the second half to help lock down the victory.
In a conference win over Colby-Sawyer, the defender once again collected three ground balls, while earning a career-high seven caused turnovers, tied for fourth-most in a single game in program history. McKenna accounted for one-third of the 21 caused turnovers credited to Castleton as the Spartans forced the Chargers into nine failed clear attempts on their way to a 17-9 victory.
McKenna has collected at least two ground balls in every one of the six matches she has appeared in so far this season and has provided stability to the Spartan defense. A Second Team All-NAC honoree last season, this is McKenna's third career weekly award from the league, as she previously received NAC Rookie of the Week honors on March 7, 2016, and NAC Defensive Player of the Week recognition on May 9, 2017.
The Spartans have won consecutive matches for the first time this season to improve to 3-4 overall with wins over Norwich (11-6) and Colby-Sawyer (17-9). Saturday against the Chargers, senior Emily Cross notched Castleton's ninth game in program history with 10 or more points, scoring four goals and dishing out seven assists for 11 total points, one off the school single-game record.
Keene State brings a 2-6 overall record into Tuesday's game, but the Owls are coming off a 21-12 victory over Emerson Saturday. Keene State has also suffered overtime losses to MIT (16-15) and Westfield State (13-12) so far this season.
Chelsea Lewis leads the Owls with 22 goals, while Taylor Farland has 16 goals and five assists for 21 total points along with 19 ground balls, 30 draw controls, and 12 caused turnovers. Anna O'Brien has started every match in net for Keene State and has posted a 12.23 goals against average and a .364 save percentage with 44 saves.
This is the 15th meeting all-time between Castleton and Keene State, with the Owls holding a 13-1 series advantage. The only Spartan victory came at Spartan Stadium on April 21, 2015, 17-13. The last three meetings have all been close, with the Owls winning by a combined total of seven goals.
Last season at Spartan Stadium, Keene State took a 9-4 lead early in the second half before Castleton rallied back, eventually tying the game at 12-12 on consecutive goals by Cross. Farland scored twice in the span of 10 seconds as the Owls scored four of the final five goals of the match to earn the 16-13 victory.
After Tuesday's game, Castleton returns home to face NAC foe Maine Maritime Saturday, March 31, starting at 3:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.