Sam Hornblower: 2017 LEC Defensive Player of the Year

Southern Maine Falls at Eastern Connecticut 10-9 in LEC Semifinals

Senior Nate DelGiudice (white jersey) had five points (3g, 2a) in USM's semifinal playoff loss at Eastern Connecticut (file photo by Jason Johns).
Senior Nate DelGiudice (white jersey) had five points (3g, 2a) in USM's semifinal playoff loss at Eastern Connecticut (file photo by Jason Johns).

Little East Conference Tournament - Semifinal
Southern Maine Falls at Eastern Connecticut 10-9

            MANSFIELD, Conn. -- The University of Southern Maine men's lacrosse team's bid to advance to its first-ever Little East Conference championship game came up one goal short Thursday evening as the third-seeded Huskies fell to the second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors 10-9 at the Mansfield Complex.

            The Huskies, making their first appearance in the LEC semifinals since 2009, finished the season 8-9 overall.  The Warriors, who advance to take on top-seeded Keene State College in the championship game on Saturday, are 10-6.  Keene State advanced by defeating Plymouth State University 14-10 in the other semifinal.

            Senior Nate DelGiudice (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) led USM's offense scoring three goals and passing out two assists for five points.  Senior Caleb Dolloff (Gorham, Maine), junior Paul Leonardo (Groton, Mass./Groton-Dunstable) and sophomore Tristan Dundas (Abbotsford, B.C.) scored two goals apiece.  Senior goalie Zach Bessette (Readfield, Maine/Maranacook) made nine saves.

            Senior Harrison Urda (Milford, N.H.) had a big night for the Warriors scoring six goals and dishing out one assist.  Classmate Connor Wyllie (Somers, Conn.) had a pair of goals, and senior Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire, Conn.) had a goal and two assists.  Sophomore goalie Taylor Huta (Waterford, Conn.) stopped 10 shots.

            Southern Maine did not trail in the game until Urda scored his sixth goal of the game with 5:52 to play in the fourth quarter to give Eastern Connecticut a 9-8 lead.  Three minutes later, Leonardo equalized for the Huskies converting a feed from DelGiudice.

            As time was winding down, Wyllie took a pass from junior Samuel Watson (Trumbull, Conn.) and beat Bessette with 1:25 remaining to provide the Warriors with the margin of victory.  Leonardo had one last attempted for a tying goal, but his shot was blocked.

            The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the first quarter on a goal by Dundas, and Urda tied the score two minutes later.  Dolloff's first goal of the season, and a pair of markers from DelGiudice gave the visitors a 3-1 midway through the quarter.  Neither side would score over the final 8:18 giving the Huskies a 3-1 advantage after 15 minutes of play.

            DelGiudice increased USM's lead to 4-1 just 15 seconds into the second quarter.  Urda scored twice to trim the Huskies lead to one (4-3) before DelGiudice restored a two-goal edge before halftime.

            Watson scored a man-down goal for ECSU in the opening seconds of the third quarter before Dundas tallied a man-up goal for USM on the same penalty to make it 6-4.  Leonardo's first goal of the game less than a minute after the Dundas goal gave USM a three-goal edge.

            Rougeot and Dolloff traded goals five minutes apart to make it 8-5 setting the stage for Urda and Wyllie.  The duo combined to score the next four goals over a span of 16:38 resulting in ECSU's first lead of the night.

            Eastern Conn. had a 37-30 edge in total shots while Southern Maine had a slim 30-29 edge in ground balls.  USM rookie long-stick midfielder Robby Pini (Natick, Mass.) led all players scooping up seven ground balls.