MANSFIELD, Conn. – Allowing an average of only three man-up opportunities and one man-up goal per game this year, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team surrendered three extra-man goals – all at critical times – in dropping a 15-12 Little East Conference decision to Western Connecticut State University Tuesday evening at Rick McCarthy Field.
With its third straight win over Eastern (3-7, 1-3 LEC) after losing the first 17 in this series (the three wins by a total of eight goals), Western (8-5, 3-1 LEC) stands in third place in the conference, 1 ½ games back of Keene State College. Eastern is in seventh place, a half-game out of the sixth and final playoff spot. Both teams are halfway through their LEC regular-season schedules.
Tuesday, Western capitalized upon six extra-man chances in the second half by scoring three times after Eastern's man-down defense had neutralized four man-up opportunities over the first 30 minutes. Ryan Reuling recorded the first man-up strike for the Colonials with his 37th goal of the season that pulled his team into a 7-7 tie midway through the third quarter; Eric Caldwell followed with his team's extra-man goal with his 34th of the year that gave Western the lead for good, 9-8, with five minutes left in the third; and Timothy Yannucci's only goal of the match – his sixth of the season – restored Western's two-goal advantage five minutes after Eastern's Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire) had converted his team's second man-up goal of the third quarter.
Eastern had taken a 4-0 lead 12 minutes into action, but Western answered with its first goal in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter. That marker by Caldwell was the first in a stretch of 13 minutes when the Colonials outscored the Warriors 5-1 and gained a 5-5 tie by the break. Eastern got a pair 25 seconds apart – Brett Chin's (Framingham, MA) potting a man-up goal to open the second-half scoring – to move in front, 7-5, but Western again rallied, outscoring Eastern 6-1 to take its first three-goal lead, 11-8 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
Reuling (6) and Caldwell (5) combined for all but four of Western's goals and for 28 of their team's 55 shots. Normally the team's No. 2 faceoff man, Ryan Vogt won 12 of 21 faceoffs for Western and picked up seven ground balls.
Rougeot totaled three goals for Eastern, with Jake Liebowitz (Trumbull) and Jacob Testa (Southington) chipping in two each and Liebowitz dishing out two assists. Tyler Stein (Milford) improved his season faceoff percentage to 44.4 by winning 12 of 25, with Michael Parker (Colchester) owning half of his six tries at the faceoff X. Dominick Biasetti (Brookfield) won six ground balls, with Stein and team ground ball leader Jack Lombardo (Berlin) corralling five.
Jack Farrell (Stratford) turned back nine shots in the first halfl and collected 15 in the game, while Western's Perry Cassidy needed only five on Eatern's 34 shots.
Eastern hosts Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Little East Conference match.