Courtesy of Keene State Athletics
Iona College women's lacrosse head coach Michelle Mason was inducted into the Keene State College Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame in mid-February. The Fairport, N.Y., native has the distinction of earning induction into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame for her accomplishments in two sports. Not only was she a record-setting goalie on the Keene State women’s soccer team, but also a prolific and high-scoring attack player on the Owl women’s lacrosse squad. “Each experience was unique,” she said. “I was fortunate to have some great coaches and players on both teams that gave me the opportunity to follow my dreams,” said Mason.
Looking for a small New England school that would allow her the opportunity to play both sports as well as pursue a degree in geography, the Fairport, N.Y., native found a home at Keene State. Noted for her aggressive style of play between the pipes, Mason quickly assumed the top goalie spot on the KSC soccer team. During her four years in goal (2001-04), the Owls had unprecedented success, earning two NCAA berths (2002 and 2004). During her sophomore season, KSC set a program record for wins (20) on the way to capturing its first Little East championship and advancing to the Sweet-16 round of the NCAA tournament.
A four-time All-LEC and three-time All-New England goalie who earned All-Region honors as a senior, Mason rewrote the Owl record book during her time in the twines. She still holds KSC records for most wins (66), saves (437), and shutouts (43) and is among the all-time leaders in GAA (0.97) and save percentage (.826).
As good as Mason was keeping the ball out of the net in soccer, she was equally proficient finding the back of the net in lacrosse. Mason’s arrival on the lacrosse field catapulted the young program into the higher echelon of the LEC and earned multiple ECAC tournament berths, including 2004 when it set a record for wins (13) and claimed the title.
During her three-year lacrosse career (2001-02, 2004), Mason established the standard that future Owl players would be matched against. Named three times to the All-LEC first team, Mason finished with 202 goals, 82 assists, and 284 points. Her marks stand for goals in a season (70) and career.
Asked to pick out her favorite Keene State memory in each sport, Mason chose two tournament games. The Owls’ NCAA soccer victory over Tufts University her sophomore season “was awesome – we beat them by a goal,” Mason said. “It was like a football game. They couldn’t handle the brutes that we were on the field.”
When it came to lacrosse, Mason readily recalls the Owls’ 2004 ECAC championship victory over Eastern Conn., a seesaw affair that saw Keene State prevail 17-16 in overtime. “It was graduation day, and the seniors all went to commencement with their uniforms under their robes, and then went right to the field.” Mason, a junior, scored the game-winning goal.
After graduating, Mason served one year as an Owl assistant coach before taking over the reins of the program for two seasons (2007-08). For the past three years, Mason has served as the head coach at Iona College in New York. Last season, Mason led the Gaels to their first berth in the Metro Atlantic tournament.
Although she’s in New York, part of Mason will always be in Keene. “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation, where I had the chance to play two sports at such a great school. I was able to take advantage of the opportunity, and it ultimately let me fulfill my dream to coach at the Division I level. That’s what I preach to my players all the time: you are blessed to be able to play as a student athlete.”