Southern Maine Downs Salem State 12-8 to Clinch LEC Playoff Berth
GORHAM, Maine -- The University of Southern Maine men's lacrosse team secured a berth in the upcoming Little East Conference tournament Saturday by defeating Salem State University 12-8 on Senior Day at Hannaford Field. The win puts the Huskies in a three-way tie for fourth place in the final regular season standings.
Winners of their final two regular-season games, the Huskies finished the season 6-9 overall and 3-4 in LEC play. The Vikings, who needed to win Saturday's game to make the tournament, finished the season 4-12 overall and 1-6 in conference play.
Senior Nate Prince (West Gardiner, Maine) led the Huskies' attack with three goals. Senior Dan Thomas (Shrewsbury, Mass.) added two goals and dished out two assists for a four-point game. Sophomore Austin Polisky (Auburn, Maine) had two goals and one assists, and junior Steve Ribero (Londonderry, N.H.) had two goals. Junior Mark White (Oakville, Ontario) chipped in a goal and two assists. Junior goalie Ryan Hatch (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) stopped nine shots in the USM cage.
Sophomore A.J. Robertson (Ipswich, Mass.) share game-high scoring honors with Thomas picking up four points on three goals and one assist. Rookie Matt Whited (Falmouth, Mass.) had two goals and one assist. Freshmen Max Gansenberg (Beverly, Mass.) and Andy Rice (Weymouth, Mass.) and senior Ryan Gendreau (Danvers, Mass./Hamilton-Wenham) all had a goal and an assist. Senior goalie Kyle Tuneburg (Beverly, Mass.) registered 13 saves.
The Huskies built an early 5-1 over the first 18 minutes of play with Prince netting two markers. The Vikings closed to within one on two occasions before halftime, the last at 6-5 on Robertson's second goal of the quarter with 1:12 left before halftime.
Southern Maine struck for three goals in a span of 2:00 late in the third period to push its lead to 9-5. Prince, Thomas and Ribero all found the net to give USM the edge heading into the final 15 minutes.
Salem State responded with three consecutive goals from Rice, Whited and Robertson to close within one with just under eight minutes left to play.
White and Thomas scored goals 20 seconds apart (5:55 and 5:35) to give the Huskies some breathing room. Sophomore Dylan Kenney (Portland, Maine/Portland) added the final marker with 2:00 remaining in the game.
The conference office will announce the official tournament pairings later tonight. Eastern Connecticut State University will be the top seed, with Keene State College earning the number two seed. Both will get first-round byes. Western Connecticut State University earned the third seed and hosts a first-round game on Tuesday. USM, Plymouth State University and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth tied for the fourth spot.