IT IS the end of an era in Keene.
On Saturday, Keene State College men's soccer coach Dr. Ron Butcher coached his final regular season home game at Owl Athletic Complex.
The Owls earned a win for Butcher, defeating Western Conn. 3-1 thanks to a pair of goals from Scotty Douglas.
Over his 43 years at Keene State, Butcher has posted a 586-246-71 record and an overall mark of 595-26-72. He announced Thursday that he will retire following this season.
With many of his former players in attendance, KSC honored Butcher with a celebration of his career during pre-and post-game ceremonies Saturday.
"I used to say in my class that the journey is better than the end. And the same thing holds true in coaching," said Butcher earlier this week. "I've been to some amazing places, I've worked with some amazing coaches, and most said to me, I can't believe you won't be on the sidelines. What are you going to do? Some of the guys even asked me if I wanted to be their assistant coach. At least people know who I am and appreciate what I accomplished during my coaching career."
Since arriving at Keene State in 1970, Butcher has been the chief architect in building an Owl soccer program that has flourished at every level of college competition from NAIA to NCAA Division II and Division III.
His win total places him fifth on the all-time list for men's college soccer coaches and third among active coaches in Division III.
The dean of men's soccer coaches in New England, Butcher has not only led the Owls to 31 post-season tournament appearances, but has developed numerous All-America, All-New England and All-Conference players, as well as some who have gone on to play in the professional ranks.
Butcher honed his soccer coaching skills at Pittsfield High and later at Wisconsin-Platteville. Butcher, a goalie by trade, was encouraged to look into the Keene State job by then-athletic director Ted Kehr and basketball coach Glenn Theulen.
"I was brought here to build a program and that's what I did," Butcher said. "They wanted a team that students could rally around."
Moving to Division III in the fall of 1997, KSC earned an NCAA berth in eight of its first 10 seasons in the Little East Conference.
"I can only speak for myself. Keene State soccer over 43 years has had a pretty good run when you look at the record and the number of athletes who have graduated from the program and experienced the thrill of competing in post-season tournaments," Butcher said.
Butcher was inducted into the KSC Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
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Emily Cousens of Hopkinton and the New York University women's cross country team was named University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week for her winning-performance at the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble at Oberlin (Ohio) College last Saturday.
Cousens bested the 284-person field, covering the 6k course in a time of 21:54.5. Running in wet and muddy conditions, she was able to move up throughout the race and eventually take the lead for good.
"Emily ran a great strategic race," said NYU head coach Nick McDonough. "She ran with the front pack most of the way and took off in the last 400 meters."
This is Cousens' first UAA Athlete of the Week honor of the season and third of her career. Earlier this season she was named ECAC Runner of the Week for her second-place finish at the Dickinson Long and Short Invitational on Sept. 28.
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Jed Magnusson of Sanborn is having another strong season as a junior captain on the Endicott College men's soccer team.
A four-year starter at Sanborn Regional under his dad Al, Magnusson is an outside defender who has been a starter all three years at Endicott, which entered the weekend with a record of 8-8.
College Notebook appears every Sunday and is compiled by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News sports staff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.