Marquist Parker Sports Editor
The Eastern Connecticut State University men’s lacrosse team looked to bounce back after their 10-5 loss to Roger Williams University at the exact mid-point of the season on Tuesday. They need a boost to vault into the second half, when they begin competition in the Little East Conference on March 27. They experienced that boost against Mount Ida College at Alumni Field, forcing 30 turnovers and exploding for ten straight goals – holding the Mustangs scoreless for 35 minutes in a 14-5 victory.
With its seventh straight win in the series, Eastern closed its non-conference ledger at 4-4 this year heading into the final month of the season, which is played strictly against conference competition. Coming off a 14-5 season, Mount Ida (1-6) had posted its first win of the year three days prior, a 22-7 Great Northeast Athletic Conference victory over visiting Albertus Magnus College.
In a match, which featured 21 ½ penalty minutes (and 52 turnovers), Eastern’s penalty-kill was up to the task, emerging unscathed on all nine of the Mustangs’ extra-man opportunities. Eastern cashed in four of its five extra-man goals in the game during the run of ten straight goals that extended a one-goal lead midway through the second period to 11 with just over three minutes left in the match. Senior attack Connor Wyllie (Somers) got the ball rolling with a man-up goal midway through the second period, junior attack Samuel Watson (Trumbull) added an extra-man goal to open the second half that made it 8-3 and in the final minutes of the third period, Watson contributed another man-up goal. Senior attack Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire) closed the quarter with an even-strength goal and added the team’s fifth man-up goal to open the final quarter and pushed the lead to nine, 12-3.
In limiting Mount Ida to the least goals allowed by the Warriors this year, Eastern got a season-high 13 saves from junior goalie; Chris Gorman (Shrewsbury, MA) before he gave way to sophomore Taylor Huta (Waterford) inside the final six minutes. Rougeot and sophomore midfielder Anthony Choronzy (Clinton) each picked up four ground balls, with Rougeot causing three. All four Eastern faceoff men saw action at the “X”, with freshman Connor Hillemeir (Farmington) winning seven of 17.
Rougeot equaled his season-high with four goals and senior midfielder Harrison Urda (Milford, NH) had two goals and improved his team-leading assist total of 16, with six. For Watson, all three of his goals came in man-up situations. Eastern hosts Keene State College March 30 at noon in its Little East Conference opener. The Warriors play at home in four of its first six conference matches before closing out the regular-season at Salem State University April 27. The LEC playoffs begin with first-round games in May.
While the men are coming into conference play on a high note, the Eastern women’s team didn’t have as much success in their game. Although Eastern Connecticut State University had lost all 11 previous matches against Connecticut College in this series, several of them were close, four of them being decided by one goal.
Although the final score did not reflect it, the Warriors’ 18-8 loss to the Camels Tuesday afternoon was not completely settled until the hosts ran off the final five goals over the final 11 minutes to pull away.
The loss was the third straight for Eastern (1-5) and the victory ended a three-game losing streak for Conn. (3-5). Three of the Camels’ losses have come to Top 20 teams.
Trailing by seven goals ten minutes into the second half, Eastern punched in consecutive goals for the first time in the match – sophomore midfielder Tristan Kijak (Windsor) nailing a free-position attempt and sophomore attack Alyssa Powers (Ellington) beating goalie Megan Mullin to cut the gap to five, 13-8.
The Camels, however, responded less than a minute after Powers’ goal for the first of two goals by Julia Loesch three minutes apart and later put the lead at double digits with a pair of insurance goals inside the final minute. Conn. limited Eastern to only 15 shots, won 16 of 27 draws and forced 27 turnovers, nearly half of them coming on failed clears.
Junior goalie Jessica Purick (Riverhead, NY) kept the Warriors within striking distance by making a career-high 16 saves as the Camels out-shot the Warriors by 3-to-1. Senior defender Taylor Behn (Amherst, NH) won four ground balls for Eastern, with senior midfielder Maggie Bodington (Stratford) and Kijak each winning three draws and picking up three ground balls. Bodington, Kijak, and senior attack Katie Burke (South Windsor) all had two goals. Eastern’s second and third-leading scorers managed only one goal and four combined shots.
Eastern opens its Little East Conference season March 30 against the University of Southern Maine at 4 p.m.