Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Keene State Athletics

HOBOKEN, N.J. 11/13/10 - The Keene State men's soccer team knew they were in for a tough afternoon at the NCAA soccer championships. Playing in unfamiliar territory, just outside of New York City and on a field-turf surface, the Owls gave it everything they had before falling to Muhlenberg University 2-0 at De Baun Athletic Complex in Hoboken N.J. on Saturday.

"Anytime you play on grass most of the year and come to turf it's a different game and it's the skillful team that usually perseveres," said KSC Coach Ron Butcher. "We had our chances and the NCAA tournament when you don't put away your chances it comes back to bite you."

Sophomore Danny Way scored two second half goals to lead the Mules (12-2-6) into Sunday's second-round game against host Stevens Institute of Technology. Stevens Institute shutout Hunter College 3-0 in Saturday's first game.

The Owls were on the defensive throughout a scoreless first half. The Mules showed a lot of kick with several strong scoring opportunities by Muhlenberg senior Mike Williams that were turned aside by KSC junior goalie Paul Blackmer (Boylston, Mass.). He stopped his first shot from top of the box and minutes later got his fingertips on a bid that was ticketed for the far corner.

Senior Brian Holmes (Sharon, Mass.) had Keene State's best opportunity to get on the board when he got a foot on a ball just in front of the goal line that Mule senior goalie Jason Daniels was able to smother.

The Mules had one last chance to score in the closing minute of the first half. A free kick by Ryan Barlotta was headed just over the cross bar by Tim Leischner with 28 seconds left on the clock.

Muhlenberg missed several chances to take the lead early in the second half. Standing alone in front of the net, sophomore Danny Way's header sailed wide of the net.

Frustrated by the Owls' bend-but-not-break defense for the first 70 minutes of the game, the Mules took advantage of a miscommunication on Keene State's backline to get on the board. Cody Antonini was able to control a bouncing ball just enough to get it to Way who put it by Blackmer at the 65:11 mark.

Down a goal, the Owls had to play a man-down for the final 19:26 of the game when Holmes was issued a red card after a he and a Mule player collided after going for the ball.

Way made it a 2-0 game at the 75:34 mark when he finished off a cross ball from Antonini.

"One or two errors put us under a gun," said sophomore back Blake Nyman (Plymouth, Mass.). "It was just one of those games where we couldn't capitalize."

"Muhlenberg is a very talented team they work the ball around a lot and play with three forwards and it's tough on the defenders," added Nyman.

Butcher moved his players forward in an attempt to get back in the game. Eric Martens (Peterborough, N.H.) had a shot from the right wing and senior Matt Johnson (Walpole, N.H.) had a couple of chances, but Daniels was able to keep the Owls from making things interesting.

Muhlenberg outshot the Owls 30-16 and had an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Blackmer finished the game with five saves before giving way to Tom Conran (So. Windsor, Conn.) who stopped two shots. Daniels made eight saves to post the shutout.

"We're a young team, our best players are young and there's a great future ahead for this team," said Butcher.

"This game sets an expectation for next year," said Nyman. A lot of the guys will be back next year and we'll be ready to get back here next year."