Local trio helps Keene State College to 6-0 start

Trio from area helps Keene to 6-0 start

Keene State College senior midfielder Leddy Gallagher and freshman back Lauren Roche of Acton, and junior sweeper Melissa Habelow of Belmont have helped propel the New Hampshire school’s field hockey team to its best start since the 2009 season.

The Owls, who advanced to the NCAA Division 3 tournament in 2011 and were 15-9 last season, were 6-0 heading into Saturday’s match against Bridgewater State University.

Gallagher (two goals, two assists in four starts) and Roche, a reserve defender who had appeared in three games, played on Division 1 state championship teams at Acton-Boxborough Regional High their senior years.


Habelow (three goals, one assist in five starts) moves up to take penalty corner shots, and was a field hockey and lacrosse captain as a senior at Belmont High.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“My stepbrother came to Keene State, where he played on the club hockey team, so that’s how I heard about the school,’’ Gallagher said, citing Chase Caldwell for his role. “From seventh through 12th grade, our teams lost only five games total, so I came to college prepared to win games and win a championship.’’

Gallagher, a first team Little East Conference pick last year when she had a goal and 10 assists, said playing in the Dual County League for the Colonials prepared her for the college game.

“The DCL is just stacked with good teams. Not only were we good, but all the other teams were awesome,’’ she said, “so you’re playing against good competition. College is another big step, but it pointed me in the right direction.’’

Gallagher said the midfield position brings out her best.


“One of my strengths is my speed and it’s nice to use that to help the team,’’ she said. “I like having the ball and making good passes.’’

Roche said the coaching she received at Acton-Boxborough from Mae Shoemaker helped her make the same strong commitment to succeed at the next level.

“In high school, ‘’ Roche said, “there are certain players you need to keep an eye on, and in college you pretty much have to watch out for the whole team.’’

Habelow’s mother, Eileen, an All-American field hockey goalie at Syracuse University, was a founder of the Belmont youth field hockey program.

“I helped my mom coach and play with the younger players,’’ she said. “The summer before my senior year I came up to Keene to play a tournament and the minute we pulled up to the campus I loved it. It’s the only school I applied to.’’


Habelow was moved from forward to defense by Owls head coach Amy Watson and it was a wise move. Her transition was eased by assistant coach Kerry Howe, who had played the position.

“I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am today without her help,’’ said Habelow. “I just go wherever they need me. I stay back, but when it comes to the corners, I’ve always had a hard shot, and Coach Watson has me taking straight shots on corners.

“On defense I’m the furthest person back other than the goalie. So I see everything and help players pick up their marks.’’

Watson doesn’t mince words when it comes to recruiting Acton-Boxborough players.

“That program puts out some great athletes,’’ she said.

Watson said Gallagher is a leader on and off the field who helps set the pace of the game, Roche has shown “excellent’’ fundamentals and sees the field well, and Habelow has “a great stick and has made quite a few defensive saves as well.’’

McSweeney elected soccer captain at Yale

Stow’s Shannon McSweeney suffered a season-ending injury during her sophomore year on the women’s soccer team at Yale University. She was limited to 11 games last year. This season, as a senior, she has been elected a captain — a tribute to her dedication and perseverance.

McSweeney, who helped lead the Rivers School to two Independent School League and New England tournament titles, appeared in Yale’s first five games this fall, four as a starter on the defense. She started all 17 games as a freshman, when she was named Primetime Performer by CollegeSoccer360.com after the Bulldogs’ victory over Penn State.

“What’s unique about Shannon is she doesn’t make excuses for herself or the team, and that really sends a message to the other players,’’ said head coach Rudy Meredith, whose squad blanked Hartford on Wednesday night.

“She’s a very hard worker who sets the tone for our team and she is like an additional coach on the field.’’

Here and there

Arlington’s James Roche (inset), who starred at Bentley University for three seasons and was an All-American at Franklin Pierce University last year, showed some pop in his bat for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the New York Mets’ entry in the Class A New York-Penn League. Roche, an outfielder, batted .243 in 67 games and led the Cyclones with 5 homers and two triples, and was second with 14 doubles, 28 RBIs and 90 total bases. He played for two teams in the independent pro Can-Am League before signing with New York. . .

Bentley University junior Tatiana Froehlich (inset), a graduate of Newton North High who plays two sports for the Falcons, is among the volleyball team’s leaders this season. After eight games, the 6-foot Froehlich was second on the 4-4 squad with 77 digs and third with 61 kills and 12 blocks through eight games. As a member of the track team at the Waltham school, she holds the women’s record in the javelin (104 feet).

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.