Eastern Connecticut Holds Off Western Connecticut
MANSFIELD, Conn. - The second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team moved into the championship game of the Little East Conference playoffs for the ninth time in the 10-year history of the playoffs, downing No. 3 Western Connecticut State University for the tenth time in ten meetings in this series, 13-11.
Defending champion Eastern, a winner of six championships, visits No. 1 Keene State College 11-4) Saturday at 5 p.m. The Owls will be making their seventh trip to the final in the past eight years after routing fourth-seeded Plymouth State University, 16-4, earlier Thursday. The Owls have won two titles, both at home over Eastern.
The teams will be meeting for the seventh time in the last eight years in the final, the Warriors having won four times. The home team has won every time in the final. Eastern, which has won its last five LEC games, lost 17-11 at Keene April 16.
Eastern never trailed against Western (7-10) , outshooting the Colonials 29-14 in moving out to a 9-5 halftime lead.Trailing 12-10, Western got a man-up goal (its only one of the game) by leading scorer Sean Macey to cut the deficit to one and later had possession with a chance to tie after forcing an Eastern turnover. However, Eastern freshman goalie Donald Berube (Tewksbury, Mass.) made a save on a shot by Andrew Bascom, Eastern senior midfielder Maxim Fantl (West Hartford, Conn.) picked up the losse ball and buried a critical unassisted goal with 3:16 left to make it 13-11.
"We talked all week about the importance of getting out of the gate quickly and having a good first quarter, which is vital to our success. We did jump out to a great lead, and now we've got to work on playing with a lead, rather than playing from behind," commented third-year Eastern head coach Justin Axel during a post-game interview with internet broadcaster Steve Piro.
"We didn't quite capitalize on lot of opportunities that we had throughout the game that could have blown the game open, but I'll give a lot of credit to Western, they hung tough the entire game, and kept clawing back. It was an excellent effort on their part."
With Western playing a man down, Mike Schoen hit the post with 2: 16 left and Berube came up with his 11th and final save on a bid by Ryan Gillis and the Warriors were able to salt away the win without allowing another shot.
Eastern junior faceoff specialist Eric Vasil (Southington, Conn.) won 22 of 27 faceoffs and picked up 17 ground balls. In two wins this season over Western (in the last three games), Vasil won 44 of 51 confrontations at the X.
Andrew Barbieri of Western led his team with five goals on five shots but Sean Macey and Adam Lanehart - ranked first and third on the team in scoring, were limited to only three goals and two assists.