Sam Hornblower: 2017 LEC Defensive Player of the Year

Little East Conference Tournament - #3 Southern Maine Advances by Downing #6 UMass Dartmouth 8-7

Sophomore Tristan Dundas fires home the game-winning goal with 2.1 seconds to play (photo by Jason Johns).
Sophomore Tristan Dundas fires home the game-winning goal with 2.1 seconds to play (photo by Jason Johns).

Little East Conference Tournament - First Round Game
Southern Maine Advances by Downing UMass Dartmouth 8-7

            GORHAM, Maine -- Sophomore Tristan Dundas (Abbotsford, B.C.) scored the winning goal with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation time to give the third-seeded University of Southern Maine Huskies a thrilling, come-from-behind 8-7 win over the sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Corsairs in a Little East Conference Championship Tournament first round game Tuesday afternoon at Hannaford Field.

            The win vaults the Huskies into a semifinal match at second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University on Thursday (7 p.m.).  The Huskies advanced into the semifinal round for the first time since 2009 with their second-ever playoff win and improved to 8-8 on the season.  The Corsairs conclude their season at 8-10 overall.

            Down 7-6 and time winding down, the Huskies got a tying goal from senior Seth Wing (West Gardiner, Maine/Gardiner Area) with a left-handed shot with 1:36 to play.

            Both sides had possessions that resulted in turnovers before the Huskies got the last possession.  After a timeout, senior Nate DelGiudice (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) got a shot off that UMD sophomore goalie Ted McCaffery (Pepperell, Mass./Bishop Guertin) stopped, but the loose ball went right to Dundas stationed just to the right of the goal.  The sophomore scooped up the ball and quickly deposited a shot into the cage for the winner.

            USM used a late first-half surge to cut into a three-goal deficit.  A run of three straight UMD goals from sophomores Mike Rizzo (Bridgewater, Mass./Bridgewater-Raynham) and Tom Donahue (Gloucester, Mass.) and senior Jordan Torres (New Bedford, Mass.) had given the Corsairs a 5-2 lead with 1:49 left in the second quarter.

            The Huskies chopped two goals off that deficit scoring twice in a span of nine seconds.  Rookie long-stick midfielder Robbie Pini (Natick, Mass.) scored his second goal of the season at 1:29, and sophomore Bryce Randall (Portland, Maine/Deering) fired home a pass from rookie Steve Gilbert (Litchfield, Maine/Oak Hill) after Gilbert won the ensuing faceoff.

            The Huskies kept the offensive momentum in the third quarter when junior Paul Leonardo (Groton, Mass./Groton Dunstable) scored off an assist from DelGiudice to tie the game at 5-5.  Dundas gave USM its first lead of the game with 0.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter firing home a pass from Randall.

            In the final quarter, Donahue scored an unassisted goal at 9:21 to level the score at 6-6.  Inside of four minutes to play, Donahue took a pass from rookie Sawyer Gibbons (Sandwich, Mass./Sturgis East Charter) and best USM senior goalie Zach Bessette (Readfield, Maine/Maranacook) to put the visitors up 7-6 with 3:42 remaining and setting the stage for Wing and Dundas.

            Leonardo and Dundas finished with two goals apiece for the Huskies.  Randall had one goal and two assists, and Gilbert had a goal and an assist, and won 7 of 9 faceoffs.  Bessette made 11 saves.

            Donahue led all scorers with three goals and one assist for four points.  Rizzo had two goals, and Torres had a goal and one assist.  McCaffrey was credited with eight saves.

            Southern Maine had a slim 33-31 edge in total shots and won the battle of the ground balls 34-21.