Sam Hornblower: 2017 LEC Defensive Player of the Year

Big Four Quarter Propels Southern Maine Men's Lax Past Western Connecticut 13-11

Junior Paul Leonardo fires a shot (file photo by Jason Johns).
Junior Paul Leonardo fires a shot (file photo by Jason Johns).
Dundas, Leonardo Combine for Nine Goals

            GORHAM, Maine -- Sophomore Tristan Dundas (Abbotsford, B.C.) and junior Paul Leonardo (Groton, Mass./Groton-Dunstable) each score two goals in the fourth quarter as the University of Southern Maine Huskies outscored the Western Connecticut State University Colonials 5-2 over the final 10 minutes to pull out a 13-11 victory in Little East Conference men's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Hannaford Field.

            The win was the second straight the Huskies, and their fourth in the last five games.  The Huskies improved to 5-6 overall and 2-1 in LEC play.  The Colonials dropped their second straight to slip to 4-7 overall and 0-3 in conference games.

            Trailing 9-8 heading into the final quarter, the Huskies used a man-up goal from Dundas with 9:49 remaining to spark a run of four consecutive goals.  Leonardo put the home side ahead for good converting from rookie Robby Pini (Natick, Mass.) 75 second later, and Dundas scored at 7:02 to give the Huskies a two-goal cushion.  Senior Seth Wing (West Gardiner, Maine/Gardiner Area) made it fourth straight USM goals in a span of 4:55 at 5:54.

            Western sophomore Eric Caldwell (East Moriches, N.Y./Westhampton Beach) snapped the run of USM goals with 1:59 to play to give the Colonials a glimmer of hope for a comeback.  Leonardo and Western sophomore Christian Sparacino (Manorville, N.Y./Eastport South Manor) traded goals over the next minute, but the Huskies got the faceoff after the Sparacino goal and were able to run out the clock.

            Coming out of the halftime break, Dundas gave USM an 8-6 edge with an unassisted marker at 6:37 of the third quarter.  Rookie Riley Graham (Oceanside, N.Y.), junior Robby Swenson (Danbury, Conn.) and Caldwell scored in a span of 2:47 late in the quarter to give the visitors the lead going into the final frame.

            Dundas finished with a game-high five goals, and Leonardo had four.  Sophomore Bryce Randall (Portland, Maine/Deering) dished out four assists, and senior Nate DelGiudice (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) had a goal and two assists.  Senior goalie Zach Bessette (Readfield, Maine/Maranacook) made 12 saves, including five in the final quarter.

            Caldwell, Sparacino and sophomore Ryan Reuling (Groton, Conn./Fitch) all recorded hat tricks for the Colonials.  Caldwell also had an assist to have a four-point day.  Graham had a goal and an assist, and sophomore John Ward (Mahopac, N.Y.) passed out two assists.

            Southern Maine is back in action Wednesday evening (6 p.m.) traveling to Salem State University for a Little East Conference game.  Western Connecticut hosts in-state rival Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday evening (7 p.m.).