WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team scored the final two goals of the match and clung to the lead over the final eight minutes Saturday afternoon to post a 12-11 Little East Conference victory over Plymouth State University at Thomas Nevers Field.
The defending LEC regular-season and playoff champion, Eastern survived a match which featured four ties and three lead changes to remain undefeated at Nevers Field in seven years of conference play. Eastern, 5-5 this season and 3-0 in Little East games, improved to 48-2 in LEC regular-season and playoff competition in defeating Plymouth State for the 15th time in this 17-game series.
Plymouth State, 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the LEC, erased a three-goal deficit in the third period by scoring five in a row, three by freshman Kyle Belanger (Southington, Conn.), and took a one-goal lead into the final period. Eastern tied the match for the final time with 10:10 left, then scored the eventual game-winning goal with 7:43 on the clock. Junior Tyler Prescott's (Norwalk, Conn.) only goal of the match was an extra-man opportunity and came on a pass from junior Pete Hamilton (Rutland, Vt.) just 16 seconds after Eastern senior Dave Carpenter (Redding, Conn.) hit the post.
The Warriors tried to run out the clock in the final minutes but lost possession, the Panthers regaining the ball with an opportunity to force overtime with just over two minutes left. However, Eastern sophomore Mike Silvestrini (Guilford, Conn.) forced a turnover and scooped up his fifth ground ball. With just under a minute left, the Panthers regained possession inside their defensive zone, but committed a penalty after the ball was knocked free and the Warriors ran out the clock in an extra-man situation.
PSU senior goalie Steve Valeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) kept his team in contention by making 19 saves, but it was a save by Eastern sophomore Kyle Savage (Southington, Conn.) which may have saved the Warriors. With Eastern trailing 11-10 with 11 minutes left, PSU junior Adam Krinsky (Concord, N.H.) received a pass at midfield and headed unmarked toward the goal. Savage made the save, however, to keep the Eastern deficit at one goal. MacDonald's tying game followed less than a minute later.
The top three Panther scorers were freshmen, as Belanger and Wes Downing (Glastonbury, Conn.) each finished with three goals and Matt Johansmeyer (Shelburne Falls, Mass.) contributed two goals and two assists. Senior defenseman Tim Vasconcellos (West Falmouth, Mass.) had five ground balls for PSU, with senior midfielder Nick Duffy (Peterborough, N.H.), junior long-stick Mike Russell (Concord, N.H.) and freshman long-stick Derick Smith (New London, N.H.) adding four each.
Plymouth State travels to Curry College on Monday for a non-conference game (4:00 p.m.) Eastern visits UMass Dartmouth Thursday at 4:00 p.m. for an LEC match.
(Courtesy of Eastern Conn. Sports Information)
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