Sam Hornblower: 2017 LEC Defensive Player of the Year

Eastern Connecticut Holds Off Southern Maine in Men's Lax 13-9

Sophomore Joe Cullinan (white jersey #11) had two goals and two assists for USM against Eastern Connecticut (file photo by Jason Johns).
Sophomore Joe Cullinan (white jersey #11) had two goals and two assists for USM against Eastern Connecticut (file photo by Jason Johns).
Huskies Host Saint Joseph's on Monday (4 p.m.)

            MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Trailing 8-3 at halftime, the visiting University of Southern Maine men's lacrosse team mounted a comeback bid in the second half to close within three goals with just under nine minutes to play before falling to Eastern Connecticut State University 13-9 in the teams Little East Conference opener Saturday at Rick McCarthy Field.

            The victory snapped a four-game losing skid for the Warriors, and improved their overall record to 3-4.  The Huskies fall back to .500 at 3-3 overall.

            Sophomore Joe Cullinan (Contoocook, N.H./Hopkinton) paced the Huskies with two goals and two assists for a four-point game.  Senior Paul Leonardo (Groton, Mass./Groton-Dunstable) had two goals and one assist, and rookie Nick James (Portland, Maine/Deering) scored once and dished off two assists.  Sophomore goalie Griffin Hanson (Dover, N.H.) made seven saves.

            Sophomore Jake Liebowitz (Trumbull, Conn.) and freshman Garrett Lapham (Trumbull, Conn.) led the Warriors offense as each recorded a hat trick.  Senior Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire, Conn.) had three points on two goals and one assist, and junior Anthony Choronzy (Clinton, Conn./The Morgan School) scored twice.  Junior goalie Jack Farrell (Stratford, Conn./Frank Bunnell) stopped 14 shots over 58 minutes before giving way to sophomore John Funk (Southbury, Conn./Pomeraug).  Funk did not record a save.

            The Warriors took a 3-0 in the first quarter on goals by Choronzy, Rougeot and Lapham.  The Eastern defense kept the Huskies off the board until the first minute of the second quarter when senior Jake Schoenberg (Topsham, Maine/Mt. Ararat) scored his third marker of the season.

            Eastern continued to build its lead as Choronzy, junior Jacob Testa (Southington, Conn.) and Lapham scored over the next seven minutes to make it 6-1.  The teams traded goals over the final six minutes to leave Eastern with an 8-3 edge at halftime.

            Leonardo scored the opening goal of the third quarter, but Eastern came back with markers from Liebowitz and Lapham to make it 10-4 with 6:55 left in the third.

            The Huskies scored five of the next seven goals, including three man-up goals, to close the gap to 12-9 with 8:37 left in regulation.  Liebowitz added the final goal less than two minutes later.

            USM had a 40-35 edge in shots attempted while Eastern won the battle for ground balls 26-18.  Both sides were very proficient in clearing the ball from their respective defensive ends as USM converted on 21-of 22 clears, and EC was successful on 23-of-24 clears.

            Southern Maine is back in action on Monday (4 p.m.) hosting Saint Joseph's College at Hannaford Field.  Eastern Connecticut travels to Keene State University for an LEC game on Wednesday (5 p.m.).