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November 2011 Archives

W-Swimming:Warriors Zero in on LEC's

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Courtesy of the LEC Office and Eastern Sports Information


LEC LOGO PARE.jpgDARTMOUTH, MA. -The top women's swimmers and divers in the conference will compete on the deck of the Tripp Center Natatorium on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this coming Saturday for the 2011 Little East Women's Swimming and Diving Championship.  The conference office will provide a live video-stream broadcast of the 1th annual championship, beginning at 10:50 a.m. on

Above: Amy Arisco (left) and Ericka Piccochi, last year's co-captains, accepted the second-place award on behalf of the team in recognition of the Warriors' outstanding performance at last year's LEC Championships.

The 2011 Little East Championship field will include Bridgewater State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Keene State College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Plymouth State University, Rhode Island College, Western Connecticut State University, and Westfield State University. The Anchorwomen are making their debut at the championship meet.

 In 2010, Keene State captured seven individual events and both team relays to raise the conference championship trophy for the fifth consecutive season and eighth time in program history. A year ago, the Owls broke five championship meet records, including two by Jillian Whitaker. Whitaker swept both breaststroke events, setting a new standard in the 100 (1:07.11) and 200 (2:26.66), respectively. Classmate Maureen O'Leary is also poised to defend her individual championships. She was the first swimmer in the history of the Little East Championship to touch the wall in the 100 butterfly in 57.80 seconds. Keene State will attempt to eclipse the 400-point barrier for the sixth-straight season.

Eastern Connecticut placed second in the conference standings for the third consecutive season to earn the Little East Team Runner Up trophy. The Warriors captured two individual events, while placing second in four to receive the most team points in program history (338). Senior Amy Arisco established a new conference championship meet record in the 400 individual medley, touching the wall at four minutes, 48.51 seconds.  Eastern Connecticut is ready for another strong showing after defeating conference challengers--UMass Dartmouth and Western Connecticut--earlier this season in dual meets.

While the graduated Arisco swam to all-conference honors (the top two individuals and top two relays in each event are accorded such honors) in three individual and one relay event last year, the Warriors do return four all-conference swimmers in senior Nadine Menard (Woodstock) and sophomore Becky Odgers (Shelton), Amanda Rivers (Meriden) and Michelle Schapp (Torrington). Last year, Menard was second in the 200 butterfly  and Rivers second in the 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle and Odgers, Rivers and Schapp joined Arisco on the 400 freestyle relay which  also placed second.

Fans unable to make the trip to North Dartmouth, Mass. can watch all the action from the 2011 Little East Swimming and Diving Championships on The broadcast will be streamed live, but the conference office will also feature an archived telecast free of charge for the viewer immediately after the awards ceremony. will also provide full coverage of the championship meet with complete individual and team scoring, as well as a comprehensive recap.

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III.  Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes.  Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.

2011 Little East Swimming & Diving Championships
Order of Events
1 200 Medley Relay
2 1650 Freestyle
3 200 Freestyle
4 100 Backstroke
5 100 Breaststroke
6 200 Butterfly
7 50 Freestyle
8 1 Meter Diving
9 100 Freestyle
10 200 Backstroke
11 200 Breaststroke
12 500 Freestyle
13 100 Butterfly
14 3 Meter Diving
15 200 Individual Medley
16 400 Freestyle Relay


LEC: Thirty-Two from Eastern are Cited

Student-athletes from all six fall teams earn all-academic honors


Complete listing.pdf

Eastern's honorees.pdf

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- A total of  32 Eastern Connecticut State University student-athletes representing all six fall sports earned spots on the Fall, 2011 Little East Conference All-Academic Team.

Seniors who were attaining spots on the fall academic honor roll for the maximum third time were Ryan Hughes (Cheshire) and Bryan Jorge (Bristol) of the men's cross country program, Sam Konopka (Hebron) and Jo-Ann Merheb (Bethel) of the women's soccer program and Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ) of the men's soccer program.

Among the eight full-fledged LEC member institutions, Eastern recorded the second-highest total of all-academic team qualifiers in the fall.

Additional academic honor roll repeaters from last fall were junior Ryan Franklin (Glastonbury) from men's cross country, junior Denica Gagnon (Colchester) and senior Amanda Quinones (Trumbull) from women's cross country, senior Lyndsey Zavisza (Suffield) and junior Rochelle Normandin (South Windsor) from field hockey, juniors Jordan Munsell (Waterford) and Cory Tobler (Portland) from men's soccer, juniors Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield) and Daniela Marchitto (Orange) from women's soccer, senior Gianna Trombino (East Moriches, NY) and junior Danielle Bourne (Branford) from women's volleyball. Senior women's volleyball player Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton) returned to the team after qualifying as a sophomore in 2009.

To qualify for the team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore athletic and academic status with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.30.

In addition to their athletic accomplishments, five of the student-athletes were recognized by the conference for their on-field successes this past fall: Quinones ran to All-New England Alliance honors for the third time with an 11th-place finish in the conference championships Oct. 29; Marchitto was named LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year and to the all-conference first team; Appel was the first-team All-LEC goalkeeper, and Tobler was named to the second team.

Eastern's total of 335 all-academic selections since the program's inception in the fall of 2007 ranks it second among the eight conference institutions - the second most in the conference - 44 more than the third-place institution.

In 2010/11, Eastern featured the most academic honor roll achievers in all three playing seasons, totaling 89; in 2009/10, Eastern won the inaugural Presidents' Cup for having the highest cumulative GPA of all conference institutions.


Softball Complex Nearing Completion





WATCH: Head Coach Diana Pepin (at left) discusses the new complex (7:45)

With construction nearing completion, members of the softball program and administrators gathered on the infield of the new Eastern softball complex, which has been under construction since May. The $3 million softball complex, located at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex, features a playing surface enclosed by a six-foot-high fence, lights, dugouts, scoreboard, sodded outfield, bullpens, batting cages and storage area.The complex replaces Howard Spector Field as only the second on-campus home ever in the 36-year history of the program.The complex was designed by the architectural firm of BL Companies of Meriden in conjunction with members of the Eastern athletic department and is under the umbrella of the Department of Public Works, with All-Phase Construction Enterprises of Stafford Springs serving as the General Contractor. Pictured in the above photograph in addition to the players are Coordinator of University construction Chuck Warrington (far left), head softball coach Diana Pepin (second from left), Director of Facilities Nancy Tinker (second from right), and Executive Vice President Dr. Michael Pernal (far right). Eastern, the two-time defending  regional champion, is scheduled to face Salve Regina University in the inaugural home doubleheader March 27, 2012 at 4 p.m.

W-Basketball: Valiants Hang on For Win

Warriors waste lead, then nearly erase deficit in eventual 71-67 setback


PURCHASE, N.Y. -  Both  teams had their moments Monday night when the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team met Manhattanville College at Kennedy Gym, but in the end, the game came down to... the end.

At right: Piper Chapman

After Eastern (2-2) built a late first-half 11-point lead on 50 percent shooting from the floor, and Manhattanville (3-2)  answered by holding  the Warriors scoreless from the floor for over four minutes to amass a 13-point advantage, the game was decided in a span of less than 30 seconds in the final minutes.

Inside the final two minutes, freshman Sarah Vann sandwiched an inside basket and layup around a failed Eastern layup on consecutive trips down the floor as the Valiants emerged with a 71-67 victory in a non-conference contest.

The game was the first away from home this year for Eastern and was the home-opener for Manhattanville, which ended a six-game losing streak at the hands of the Warriors with their second win in this series - first since 1981.

With a marked advantage in field goal shooting in the first half, Eastern had an opportunity to pull away but was hampered by 12 turnovers and effective  Valiant free throw shooting (9-ofor-12). Still, inside the final five minutes of the half, freshman Taylor McBride (Willimantic) set up  baskets by freshman Danyelle Rodriguez (Willimantic) - a three-pointer - and senior Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI) to boost the visitors into their largest lead (11).

Manhattanville, coming off a 31-point loss at Division I Army three days ago,  sliced the Eastern lead to six by the half and after a nip-and-tuck first ten minutes of the second half, used a 13-1 run over four minutes to move out to a 13-point lead with 7:32 left.

While Eastern struggled all night at the line (12-for-23), McBride and  junior Jessica Blodgett (Niantic) each nailed a pair around a pair of misses by Manhattanville that pulled Eastern to within two points with two minutes left. In the most decisive sequence of the game minutes later, Vann rebounded  a missed Valiant three-pointer, put it back while being fouled and converted the free throw to make it a five-point home lead. On Manhattanville's next trip down the floor after an Eastern miss, Vann stuck a jumper in the paint to give the hosts an insurmountable seven-point lead with 65 seconds left.

Chapman recorded her third straight double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, with junior post player Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA) adding 111 points and nine rebounds andBlodgett 16 points and seven rebounds. McBride added eight points, five assists and two steals.

Led by  junior Taylor Wilson, Manhattanville featured four double-figure scorers and six players with at least four rebounds. Wilson led all players with 21 points (7-for-15 from the floor) with six rebounds.

Eastern hosts the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 1 p.m. in its Little East Conference opener.  The Warriors were ranked third in the LEC coaches' pre-season poll, Southern Maine second. Eastern  won  two of three over the Huskies a year ago, with the second victory knocking them out of the LEC tournament semifinals.


M-Basketball: Defense Carries the Night

Warriors hold opponent under 40 pct. FG shooting for third time in win


READ: Norwich  Bulletin's re-cap

NEW LONDON, Conn--  The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team continues to turn strong defense into wins. In its first road game of the season Monday night, the Warriors limited their opponent to a  field goal shooting percentage under 40 percent for the third time in a 69-52 non-conference victory over Connecticut College at the Charles Luce Field House.

Now 3-1, Eastern led from start to finish in defeating Connecticut College (0-3) for the third straight year and by its largest margin since a 72-54 verdict in the 1989/90 Liberty Bank Classic. It was also the first time in the last four meetings that the game did not extend into overtime.

At right: Nick Nedwick (Cris Yarborough photo)

Senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) scored 14 of Eastern's 35 first-half points and junior post player Chris Robitaille (Canton) came off the bench for two inside baskets and five rebounds in 12 first-half minutes to spark the Warriors to a quick start. In addition to his first-half points, Nedwick set up three more baskets with assists.

Nedwick scored ten of his 14 first-half points in a span of five minutes when Eastern outscored the hosts 17-7 to turn a 16-11 lead into a 33-18 advantage. Nedwick had two three-pointers in that run - one conventional one and one three-point field goals - sophomore guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) netted his team-leading 16th three-point field goal, and Robitaille and senior forward Jamie Kohn (Columbia) each scored two points to pace the Warriors in that decisive span.

In its three wins this season, Eastern has held its opponent to an average of 50 points by keeping it to field goal shooting of less than 40 percent. Conn managed a mark of just 38.8 percent from the floor.

The Warriors had their best showing at the free throw line this year by sinking 71.4 percent of its 14 tries and turned the ball over a season-low seven times.

Nedwick finished the night with a game-high 22 points and five assists, senior forward Hamilton Levy (Woodbury) adding 11 points and five rebounds, Kohn ten points, a game-high eight rebounds and five assists and Robitaille seven points, seven rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. The team leader in field goal shooting, Robitaille came off the bench to connect on his first two tries and three of five in the game and is now shooting 70.6 (12-for-17).

First-year sophomore transfer Tim Quinn (Vernon) collected his first basket in an Eastern uniform by drilling a three-point on his first field goal try inside the final 30 seconds.

Boris Jeremic had a team-high 16 points for Conn on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor (4-for-5 from three-point range).

Eastern hosts the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 3 p.m. in its Little East Conference opener. The Warriors shared fourth place in the LEC pre-season coaches' poll. Southern Maine was rated seventh. Since losing three straight to the Huskies, Eastern has swept them each of the last three seasons.




Three from Eastern are Senior All-Stars

Slonski in volleyball and Appel, Smiles in men's soccer are selected

slonski head 72_2656.jpgappel jersey 72_2528.jpgsmiles shirt 72_2532.jpg

From far left: Slonski, Appel, Smiles

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior volleyball player Samantha Slonski (Griswold) and senior men's soccer players Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ) and Aaron Smiles (Bedford, MA) have been selected to participate in their respective upcoming New England Division III senior all-star games.

Slonski, a  5-foot-7 inch setter/outside hitter,  is one of 33 selections to the New England Women's Volleyball Association (NEWVA) Senior Classic, while Appel and Smiles are among 36 selections to the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League (NEISL) All-Star Game.

The soccer showcase is scheduled for this Sunday at 11 a.m. on the Harvard University turf field in Cambridge. The volleyball all-star game is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 4 at 11:30 a.m. at the Clark Athletic Center on the University of Massachusett Boston. A 10 a.m. skills competition will precede the exhibition match.

A total of 33 different institutions are represented in the volleyball all-star game, with the soccer contest representing 21 New England institutions. The Little East Conference will be represented with six selections from four institutions to the volleyball game and four conference players representing two institutions will compete in the soccer match.

Slonski becomes the 22nd Eastern selection to the volleyball all-star game since 1987 - first since Marianna Capomolla and Jessica Keogh five seasons ago. The selections of Appel, a goalkeeper, and Smiles, a defender, bring to 15 - seven in the last five years -- the number of Eastern players tabbed to the soccer all-star game.

This past season, Slonski led the Warriors in assists (458)  for the third time in four years and ranked first in attack attempts (793), second in kills (278) and digs (343) and third in service aces (35). In her career, Slonski finished seventh all-time in assists (1,826) and in the top 15 in digs (1,168).

Behind Slonski, Eastern regained a spot in the Little East post-season tournament this past fall after a year's absence under interim head coach Pete Maneggia and upset higher-seeded Western Connecticut State University in the first round on the road. The Warriors finished with at least 20 wins (20-10) for the 26th time in the program's 37-year history.

This past year, Smiles was named LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year and became only the second Eastern player in 23 years of LEC men's soccer to be named to the all-conference team as many as four times. He earned first-team accolades for the third straight year.  Appel was named to the all-conference team for the third time this past fall, second time as a first-teamer. 

Smiles started all 19 matches in which he appeared (missing three with a concussion), averaging 82.8 minutes per match and contributing five assists to improve his career total in that department o 29 - the most by an Eastern player in at least the last 22 seasons.

Overall, Appel tied the program record with ten full shutouts in backstopping the team to a program season-record  of 14. He finished the season with a 13-6-1 record, a 0.70 goals-against average and .854 save percentage, ranking 24th  nationally in save percentage and 36thth in GAA. As a team, Eastern ranked fourth in shutout percentage (.636/14 in 22 matches), 15th in save percentage and 21st in GAA.

In seven regular-season conference matches this past year, Appel allowed only one goal for a 0.14 goals-against average. In conference regular-season play, he also led the loop in save percentage (.968) and shutouts (5). 

Under fifth-year head coach Greg DeVito in 2011, Eastern finished 15-6-1 (one win shy of the program record which was set two years ago), 6-1-0 in the Little East and became the first team in the program's 51-year history to record as many as five straight seasons of ten or more wins. The Warriors, ranked eighth in the final NSCAA New England rankings, qualified for post-season play for the fifth straight year, fourth as NCAA tournament participants.

Eastern finished with a share of first place in the final conference standings for the third time under DeVito, winning outright its second regular-season title and going on to its third conference tournament championship.


Softball: Regional Champions Honored!


sbgroupplaks72_0050.jpgThe 2011 New England regional champion Eastern Connecticut State University fastpitch softball team was recognized at halftime of Tuesday night's Eastern-Emmanuel women's basketball game at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Members of the team were officially presented with their regional championship plaques during the halftime ceremony. Presenting the plaques were Eastern Executive Vice President Dr. Michael Pernal (standing second from left), Interim Director of Athletics Michael Stenko (standing second from right) and head coach Diana Pepin (standing far left). The Warriors won their second straight regional title in 2011 and finished fifth nationally at the Division III national tournament at Salem, VA.

M-Basketball: Warriors Rout Trinity

Second-half onslaught lifts them to 74-50 blowout victory

yarboroughtc72-dpi_0032.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) and sophomore guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) combined to outscore Trinity College by six points in the second half and power the Warriors to a 74-50 rout of the Bantams in non-conference men's basketball Tuesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Brandon Yarborough (50) was one of five newcomers to see action in Tuesday's 24-point home rout of Trinity.

Holding a two-point halftime lead, Eastern (2-1) outscored Trinity (2-1) by 22 points in the second half by shooting 60.7 percent from the floor and limiting the visitors to just 19 points in winning for a series-high fourth straight year over Trinity. The 24-point win is the largest  in this 25-game series for Eastern, which had won its previous five games against Trinity by an average of only 3.4 points.

Nedwick scored 13 of his game-high 18 points and Salzillo 12 of his 15 points after the break. They combined for all but 16 of Eastern's second-half points. Salzillo was 5-for-6 from three-point range in the contest to improve his three-game three-point performance this year to 15-for-28 (53.6 percent). As a freshman, he had managed only 37 points all season but was 10-for-26  (38.5 percent) from behind the arc.

In the game, Eastern's defense drew seven charge calls -- four in the first half - which led to six of Trinity's 18 turnovers and helped the Warriors score 17 points off turnovers (as opposed to only four for the Bantams).

Recuperating from a fractured right hand, junior post player Chris Robitaille (Canton)  gave the Warriors a lift off the bench in the first half when he netted eight of his game total of ten points on six first-half shots. Soon after entering the game six minutes into action, Robitaille dropped in consecutive short jumpers in the paint to give Eastern a six-point lead. Later in the half, Robitaille  converted another inside bucket that tied the game, and the Warriors never trailed thereafter.

Eastern seized the momentum for good in the second half when it held the Bantams without a bucket and only three points over five minutes and turned a tight seven-point lead into a 19-point blowout with  8:30 left. Nedwick began that 15-3 rush with a conventional three-point play. He had seven points in that streak while Salzillo totaled six on a pair of three-pointers.

Senior forward Jamie Kohn (Columbia) chipped in seven points, six rebounds and five assists for Eastern, Nedwick adding five rebounds and four assists and sinking eight of his 14 field goal attempts.

Eric Dean led Trinity with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds but was the only Bantam in double figures for points or with more than four rebounds.

Eastern visits Connecticut College Monday at 7 p.m.


W-Basketball: Slow Start Costs Warriors

Playing third game in four days, they cannnot get offense untracked


WILIMANTIC, Conn. - The high-pressure Emmanuel College defense forced Eastern Connecticut State University into 23 percent shooting from the floor and 20 turnovers as the Saints emerged with a 57-53 non-conference women's basketball victory in a battle of last year's NCAA tournament qualifiers Tuesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasnium.

At right: Kristina Forsman

On its first 27 possessions through the opening 11 minutes, Eastern (2-1)  missed 17 of 18 field goals and turned the ball over nine times and trailed by nine.

Down by eight in the opening minute of the second half, the Warriors chipped away but could never get closer than four points until the final minute of play. At that point, a three-pointer by freshman point guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) cut the Emmanuel (2-1) lead to one point with 10.2 seconds left. After one free throw restored a two-point Saints' lead with nine seconds left, Eastern could not capitalize on a chance to tie or go ahead when it gave the ball back to Emmanuel with a turnover after rebounding the second missed free throw.  Fouled in the front court with 6.4 seconds left, Laura Benvenuto swished her only two free throw attempts of the game to seal the Emmanuel win.

Emmanuel managed the win despite missing 14 of 25 free throws (the Saints were 5-for-10 from the stripe in the final two minutes), turning the ball over 28 times, shooting only 39 percent from the floor, and being outrebounded by three. For its part, Eastern missed 15 of 18 three-point field goals, including all seven attempts in the first half.

Both teams were playing their third games in the first four days of the season.

Benvenuto  scored 13 of her  game-high 15 points in the second half, when she canned five of six field goals and Forsman netted 11 of her 13 after the break. Point guard Megan Kirwan had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Saints and Victoria Johnson 12 points (6-for-8 from the floor) and six rebounds.

Behind Forsman, junior post player Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA), senior post player Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI) and junior guard Jessica Blodgett (Niantic) each totaled ten points in an average of 35 minutes each. Kelleher recorded her third double-double in three games this season by adding a game-high 14 rebounds (seven offensive), with Chapman pulling down ten. Blodgett missed 17 of 19 field goals but contributed a career-high 11 rebounds.

Eastern visits Manhattanville College Monday at 7 p.m.

Swim: Eastern's Depth Dooms SJC

Rivers, McVeigh lead the way for Warriors in victory over Blue Jays

mcveigh head 72_5129.jpgWEST HARTFORD, Conn. --  Sophomore Amanda Rivers (Meriden)  won two 100 yard events and swam a leg of two winning relays Saturday morning when the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team defeated Saint Joseph College, 157-123.

At left: Erin McVeigh

Led by Rivers, classmate Erin McVeigh (Windsor) and senior Nadine Menard (Woodstock), Eastern (2-0) swimmers won all 12 individual events and both relays in downing Saint Joseph for the 27th time in 28 dual meets between the programs since 1997.
Rivers won the 100 freestyle and100 backstroke, swam the final leg of the 200 medley relay and the first leg of the 200 freestyle relay.

Eastern swimmers competed in the 200 individual medley and the 200 freestyle relay - which concluded the meet -- on an exhibition basis only.

Menard captured the 200 butterfly  and 200 breaststroke and swam the fastest 200 individual medley on an exhibition basis, while McVeigh won two freestyle events (200 and 500).

Others winning individual events included first-year sophomore Jen O'Leary (West Suffield) in the 1000 freestyle, sophomore Michelle Schapp (Torrington) in the 200 backstroke and freshman Rachael Thatcher (Newington) in the 100 breaststroke.

Joining Rivers on the winning 200 medley relay were Schapp, Thatcher and King and joining her on the 200 freestyle relay which posted the best time on an exhibition basis were McVeigh, freshman Abby Arisco (Wallingford) and freshman Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk).

Eastern participates in the Little East Conference Championships Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.


W-Basketball: LEC Tabs Chapman

Most Outstanding Player of tip-off tournament is Player-of-the-Week


LEC LOGO PARE.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI) has been named women's basketball Player-of-the-Week in the Little East Conference in the first report of the year after earning Most Outstanding Player honors at this past weekend's Eastern Tip-Off Tournament.

The 6-foot-1 inch team co-captain was named Most Outstanding Player of the 32nd Annual Eastern Tip-Off Tournament in leading the Warriors to their 17th championship Sunday in a 75-68 victory over Montclair State University.

The weekly Player-of-the-Week honor is the first in the career of Chapman, a four-year player, and marks the first such honor for an Eastern women's basketball player since  February 22, 2009, when Nicky Morey was cited in the final regular-season report.

Chapman tied the 30-year-old tournament game record in an opening 117-43 win over Johnson State Saturday with a career-high 33 points on 14-for-18 field goal shooting and 5-for-5 marksmanship from the foul line.  In the win over Montclair State University in the championship game Sunday, she had ten points and five rebounds in the second half  en route to 12 points and ten rebounds in the contest. Chapman helped a decisive 11-2 run over three minutes inside the final eight minutes with six points and an offensive rebound.

She led Eastern in two tournament games with 45 points and also led all Eastern players by shooting 68.0 percent from the floor and 100 percent from the line on 11 free throws. She also had two blocked shots, two assists and two steals in the tourney.

The tip-off championship was the 11th in the last 15 years for Eastern, which hosts Emmanuel College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.


W-Basketball: Tip-Off Tourney Champs!

whooptipoffchmps72_0027.jpgWATCH: Post Game Interview with head coach Denise Bierly (3:01) (pictured below).  (Interview by Amanda Palmieri). WATCH: Awards Ceremony (2:47)

bierly head 72_7943.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Tournament MVP Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI ) scored six points in a crucial 9-1 run late in the game that helped carry the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team to its 17th Eastern Tip-Off Tournament title Sunday afternoon in a 75-68 victory over Montclair State University at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

Eastern (2-0)  scored 12 straight points late in the first half to build a seven-point halftime lead, but could not shake Montclair (2-1), who closed to within three points four times in the second half. With Eastern holding a 54-51 lead with eight minutes left, Chapman scored an inside basket on an assist from freshman point guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) to spark the 9-1 run that accounted for a 12-point, 65-53 lead with five minutes left.

With Eastern leading by eight, the six-foot Chapman, the team's only senior, gave Eastern its first double-digit lead with an inside basket and after a steal by freshman post player Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), Chapman sank a jumper in the paint on a pass from freshman guard Taylor McBride  (Willimantic) to give Eastern its largest lead at 65-53. 

kellehermsu72dpi_9993.jpgIn the title game, junior post player Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA) posted her  second tournament double-double with career-highs of  24 points and 16 rebounds, with junior guard Jessica Blodgett (Niantic) sinking 18 points (7-for-11 from the floor) and Chapman scoring 12 points (ten in the second half) and grabbing ten rebounds.

At left: Lauren Kelleher defends against Montclair's Taylor Jeffers in the second half of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament title game Sunday at Geissler Gym.

The Warriors won their second straight tournament title - second in as many tries against Montclair in the title game -- and 11th in the last 15 seasons as they competed in the championship game for the 28th time in 32 seasons.  The Red Hawks brought a 4-1 tournament record into Sunday's title game . Montclair had dropped a  55-53 decision to Eastern in the 1992 championship game but was the 1996 champion when it downed Salve Regina, 89-63, in the title game.

Montclair freshman Melissa Tobie had 23 points and eight rebounds in the title game Sunday and finished the tournament with the most points (48) of any player in the tournament. She also added eight rebounds in each tournament game and was 58.6 percent from the floor and 14 of 19 from the foul line in the tourney. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Theresa Towns, who recorded 27 tournament points, six steals and six rebounds and  was 8-for-8 from the foul line.

In two tournament games, Chapman had 45 points and 13 rebounds, shot 68.0 percent from the floor and was 11-for-11 from the foul line. In Saturday's 117-43 first-round win over Johnson State, Chapman tied the tournament record with a career-high 33 points on 14j-for-18 shooting from the floor and 5-for-5 marksmanship from the stripe.

Kelleher and Blodget joined Chapman on the all-tournament team from Eastern. Kelleher had 42 points and a team-high 27 rebounds in two contests, shot 59.1 percent from the floor and was 16-for-20 from the stripe. Blodgett contributed 30 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the floor (4-for-4 from three-point range).

Rounding out the all-tournament team was Regis College's (MA) Claire Ramonas. Ramonas led Regis (1-1) to third place with a 90-48 triumph over Johnson State College in the consolation game Sunday afternoon. Ramonas  led all players in the third-place game with 19 points and topped the Pride with six rebounds. She was 8-for-13 from the floor against Johnson State (1-2) to lead four double-digit scorers. Brittany Robertson led the Badgers with 16 points, four assists and four steals.

Eastern hosts Emmanuel College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.



M-Basketball: Eagles Golden in Tip-Off

Behind four double-digit scorers, SJC wins title in first try, 90-76

garrow72dpi_9538.JPGWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Trey Black paced four double-digit scorers with a game-high 21 points to lead the Saint Joseph's College (L.I.) men's basketball team past host Eastern Connecticut State University, 90-76, in the championship game of the 2011 Eastern Tip-Off Tournament Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Mike Garrow (Cristina Danielson photo)

In its first appearance in the tournament, Saint Joseph's (2-0) won two games by an average of 11 points. Leading by only four points with  just under five minutes left, the Golden Eagles limited Eastern to one field goal and three total points the rest of the way, outscoring Eastern (1-1)13-3 over that final five-minute span.

Black and fellow all-tournament selection Olivier Laurent each had four points in that decisive stretch, with tournament MVP Chris Jimenez sinking his fourth three-point field goal of the game (ninth of the tournament) to push the lead into double-dgitis, 84-74, with 71 seconds left.

Black finished with a game-high 21 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three steals, with Laurent and Steve Velazquez adding 16 points each and Jimenez 13 points, five steals and four assists and only two turnovers in 39 minutes.

The lead changed hands 13 times in the game but only once in the second half. The Warriors led by three at halftime and maintained a slim second-half lead before the Golden Eagles broke the eighth and final tie when Velazquez swished a three-point field goal with just under ten minutes left to give the visitors the lead for good.

In the tournament, Jimenez had 35 points (9-for-21 from three-point range), nine steals, eight assists and only two turnovers in 69 minutes. Laurent led the team with 37 points in two games and added nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Black had 31 points and a team-high 17 rebounds and was 11-for-12 from the foul line in the tourney.

Eastern senior Jamie Kohn (Columbia) scored a team-high 18 points in the final to pace five double-figure scorers for Eastern, and senior Hamilton Levy (Woodbury) added 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

Sophomore Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and junior Mike Garrow (Terryville) represented Eastern on the all-tournament team and they were joined by  Robert Hunter of Worcester State.. Salzillo totaled a career-high 21 points in the opening 68-48 win over Worcester State and finished with a team-high 34 points in two tournament games. He amassed ten three-pointers and shot 45.5 percent from behind the arc. Garrow followed with 24 points in the tournament, shooting 52.6 from the floor and sinking all four of his free throws and adding seven rebounds.

Hunter of Worcester State finished the tournament with team-highs of 30 points and 27 rebounds.

Eastern was making its 27th appearance in the championship game in the tournament's 31-year history. The Warriors have won eight times, most recently in 2009.

Worcester takes third-place game

Worcester (1-2) rebounded from its 20-point opening loss to Eastern  with an 83-76 decision over SUNY Geneseo to claim third place.

Hunter posted his second double-double of the tournament with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Frank Stephenson rebounded from a one point, two rebound effort against Eastern, to lead four Lancers in double figur5es with a game-high 26 points (10-for-16 from the floor) and seven assists.

Jordan Jones sank eight of 13 field goals and totaled a team-high 23 points for Geneseo (0-3), with Abe Miller grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Jones led all tournament players with 42 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the floor.


W-Basketball: Freshmen Fuel Rout

Warriors blast Badgers to move into tip-off tournament title game

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WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI) scored a career-high 33 points on the strength of 14-of-18 shooting from the floor in only 19 minutes and all 13 healthy players saw time as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team routed Johnson State College, 117-43, in the opening round of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament Saturday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Piper Chapman (Cristina Danielson photo)

Eastern (1-0) will face Montclair State University (2-0) Sunday at 3 p.m. in the championship game of this 32nd annual tournament. The Red Hawks survived a 73-66 first-round victory over Regis College, MA (0-1) to advance to the title game for the third time in three tip-off appearances. Regis will meet Johnson State (1-1) to determine third place Sunday at 1 p.m.

Against the Badgers, every Eastern player contributed at least one rebounds and ten broke into the scoring column. In her collegiate debut, 5-foot-10 inch freshman Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) came off the bench for 19 points and a game-high 14 rebouds in 23 minutes, while junior Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA) had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

As one of eight newcomers to see time, freshman Danyelle Rodriguez (Willimantic) added ten points off the bench, freshman point guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) had eight points and thre assists, freshman Theresa Hart (New Fairfield) six points and first-year sophomore Saige Johnson (Guilford) three points. Freshman Jasmine Claxton (West Haven) contributed three points and two rebounds in seven minutes off the bench.

Eastern defeated Montclair, 55-52, in the 1992 title game before the Red Hawks beat Eastern, 51-47 in the first round of the 1996 tournament en route to an 89-63 trumph over Salve Regina University in the championship tilt.  It marked only one of four times that Eastern has not competed in the championship game. The Warriors, the 2010 champions, went on to capture seven straight crowns after Montclair's 1996 championship.

Montclair Withstands Regis

In a game where 54 points came from the free throw line, Montclair forced 19 turnovers and converted 24 of 31 free throws to send first-time tournament competitor Regis (0-1) into the consolation game.

Montclair took the lead for good, 50-45, on a jumper by Michelle Montagna and layup and free throw by Melissa Tobie with 11 minutes left, but was never able to push the advantage into double figures.

Tobie scored 14 of her team's 30 first-half points and finished with a game-high 25 points. She was 8-for-14 from the floor and sank nine of 11 free throws and also grabbed eight rebounds. Theresa Towns added 15 points (6-for-6 from the foul line), Jaime Ericson 12 and Taylor Jeffers shared game-high rebounding honors with five.

Claire Ramonas led Regis with 17 points and nine rebounds while Stephanie Crawford was perfect on 13 free throw attempts and totaled 15 points. Eilee Marro had nine points and nine rebounds, seven of her points coming from the stripe.


M-Basketball: Salzillo Sizzles in Opener

Sophomore nets career-high 21 as Warriors advance to tip-off final

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sulinski hands.JPGWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Sophomore guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) scored 18 of hiscareer-high 21 points in the  second half to pace the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 68-48 victory over Worcester State University Friday in the opening round of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

Above: Brian Salzillo

Eastern (1-0) will face St. Joseph's College -L.I. (1-0)  in Saturday's 3 p.m. championship game. The Golden Eagles got a combined 43 points, nine assists and eight rebounds from senior guards Chris Jimenez and Olivier Lauren to down SUNY Geneseo (0-2), 81-72, in Friday's second first-round contest. Worcester  State (0-2) meets Geneseo in Saturday third-place game at 1 p.m.

Salizillo, who had scored only 37 points in his freshman season last year, came off the bench to can six three-pointers en route to his career-high total After missing four of five shots in the first half, he was 6-for-9 from the field - 5-for-7 from three-point range - in the second half to push Eastern into the title game for the 27th time in 31 years. Eastern has won eight titles, most recently in 2009.

Salzillo scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half in a stretch of five minutes - nailing three straight three-pointers and also converting a conventional three-point play as the Warriors outscored the Lancers 19-6 to move out to an 18-point, 60-42 lead with just under five minutes left.

Senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) had 11 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals for Eastern, with senior forward Jamie Kohn (Columbia) pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.

Worcester, coming off a 70-69 opening loss to Nichols College Tuesday night, got double-doubles and a combined 27 points and 23 rebounds from  sophomore forward Robert Hunter and junior forward Monte Goodwin.  Hunter had 16 points and  a game-high 13 rebounds and Goodwin 11 points and ten rebounds.

Worcester outrebounded Eastern by nine but commited 24 turnovers and shot only 34.5 percent from the floor in the game.

St. Joseph's Advances

There were  eight ties and 19 lead changes before  St. Joseph's pulled away in the last five minutes when it held Geneseo scoreless from the field and to just one point during  a game-ending 16-1 run. The Eagles sank eight of nine free throws over the final three minutes, scoring their final six points from the stripe. In that 16-1 run, senior guard Trey Black contributed a three-point field goal and two free throws,  senior forward Steven Velazquez four consecutive free throws and Olivier an inside hoop and two freebies.

St. Joseph's was out-rebounded by 25 but outscored the Knights by 18 from three-point range in its season-opener.  The winners were 21-for-28 from the foul line in the game.

Jimenez had a game-high 22 points (five three-pointers) and added four assists and four rebounds, while Laurent had 21 points, five assists and four rebounds. Velazquez had 12 points and seven rebounds and Black ten points and eight rebounds.

Geneseo missed 12 of 14 three-point attempts in the game but got 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds from junior forward Ryan Riefenhauser and 15 points and seven rebounds from freshman forward James McKenna. Five Geneseo players had had least seven rebounds.


W-Basketball: New Faces, Similar Goals

Four starters must be replaced for Warriors to attain their goals this year

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WATCH: Head coach Denise Bierly (below) previews the season. (4:26) Interview by Amanda Palmieri.

bierly head 72_7943.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The goals for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team for each of the past 17 seasons under head coach Denise Bierly have never really changed.

The only thing that changes are the players who are being asked to fulfill those goals.

At left:Co-captains Piper Chapman and Jessica Blodgett with head coach Denise Bierly.

With four starters - all of whom started every game last year - graduated a large number of support players and newcomers will be counted upon if the Warriors hope to once again challenge for the Little East Conference championship.

Last year's squad won 20 games for the third time in four seasons, shared second place in the conference regular season, and advanced to the LEC tournament title game for the third time in four years.

While Eastern fell short in its goals for winning the LEC regular season and LEC tournament titles, the Warriors reached their other two: they tipped off the season by winning their own Eastern Tip-Off Tournament title, which helped springboard the team to a 7-0 start and eventually their ultimate goal: a berth in the NCAA tournament and final record of 21-9.

Eastern opens its 2011/12 season against Johnson State College in the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

A roster stocked with nearly twice as many newcomers (9) as returnees (5) may have an uphill struggle to attain its standard goals, but it is not without precedent. Following the loss of four seniors two years ago, the Warriors still carved out 17 wins --  ten coming in 14 regular-season conference games - and finished with a piece of second place in the LEC standings.

"I think that we set the program at a certain level and we expect to play at a certain level," points out Bierly, who became the winningest coach in program history last year. "I do think that this year's team will be challenged by the schedule we have, and I think that could be difficult at times if the freshmen are not consistent in their play."

With the exception of senior post player Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI), no returning player started even one game a year ago and none averaged as many as 20 minutes. Settling in with four senior teammates, Chapman enjoyed a breakout season by averaging nearly 11 points and eight rebounds and shooting just under 50 percent from the floor.

Chapman will be joined by four junior returnees: post players Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA) and Rachael Armstrong (Fairfield) and guards Jessica Blodgett (Niantic) and Samantha Riccio (Avon). Kelleher, Blodgett and Riccio will likely join Chapman in the starting lineup.Freshman Kristina Forsman (Newington), a Hartford Courant honorable mention All-State pick as a senior, may take on the difficult task of starting at point guard as a first-year player.

"I think we really need those four or five upperclassmen - Piper and the four juniors -- to really step up," notes Bierly. "This is their time to shine and to make a statement about what their about and how the team is going to be this year. A couple of years ago, we had the same exact team chemistry, we had one senior and a lot of freshmen and won some big games. I think that our goal right now is to be competitive and keep learning and trying to get better every day."

Chapman evolved into a fulltime starter for the first time last year, Kelleher starting in half of the team's games as a freshman before exclusively coming off the bench as a sophomore. Blodgett has started only one game in her career and Riccio as served exclusively as a player off the bench.

Forsman, the first freshman starter at point guard since Nicky Morey in 2006, will be joined by several talented newcomers who should contribute, given time. Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), Lauren Halla (Whately, MA), Danielle Rodriguez (Willimantic) and Taylor  McBride (Willimantic). McCourt and Halla are post players and Rodriguez and McBridge guards. Halla will miss the first month of the season with a broken foot. McBride and Rodriguez were members of last year's Windham HS state championship team.
Additional newcomers include freshmen Rabia Rawji (Danbury), Theresa Hart (New Fairfield), and Jasmine Claxton (West Haven) and first-year sophomore transfer Saige Johnson (Guilford).

In addition to a difficult Little East Conference schedule, Eastern will be tested against perennial regional powers Emmanuel College, defending national champion Amherst College, Williams College and Bowdoin College. In the pre-season conference coaches' poll, Eastern was picked for third behind Rhode Island College and the University of Southern Maine. Defending champion Western Connecticut was picked for fifth.

"I think that the top two teams are Rhode Island, because they have their whole starting five back, and Southern Maine is the other one," observes Bierly. "They have a really good group back as well. I think they will be the two top teams to beat. It will be challenging."


Men's Basketball: Ten Return in 2011-12

Warriors open season Friday at 5:30 p.m. vs. Worcester State in tip-off

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WATCH: Head Coach Bill Geitner (at right) discusses the upcoming season.(3:51) Interview by Amanda Palmieri

The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team looks to open the 2011-2012 season with one goal: to have a successful season. It begins that journey Friday night when it  opens its 71st intercollegiate season by hosting Worcester State University in the opening round of its own Eastern Tip-Off Tournament at 5:30 p.m. at Geissler Gymnasium.

"If we talk as a team and as individuals to go out every day and get better, better individually, better collectively, and if we do that each and every day by the end of the season, we are going to experience success" said head coach Bill Geitner, now in his tenth season.

Last year's team finished with a record of 21 wins and 10 losses (10-4 in the Little East Conference) - equaling the program record for wins and giving the program back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time. Eastern finished the regular season third in the Little East Conference and as the 3rd seed made it to the Little East Conference championship game but lost to top-seeded Rhode Island College. The Warriors continued the season as the No. 1 seed in the ECAC Division III New England Tournament for the second straight season, and won a pair of tight games before losing the championsh


ip game for the second straight year

At right Nick Nedwick (Cris Yarborough photo)

.This year, Eastern is tied with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for fourth  place in the 2011-2012 Little East pre-season coaches' poll. Last year's champion Rhode Island College is the top seed in the pre-season poll, with Keene State second and Western Connecticut third. In the LEC regular season last year, Eastern swept Keene and was swept by Rhode Island and Western. In LEC post-season tournament, the Warriors routed Western , 94-70, in the semifinals and dropped a 62-49 decision at Rhode Island in the title game.

The team knows the importance of conference games.

"Conference games are big", confessed Geitner, who ranks third all-time among Eastern men's basketball coaches in years of service and games coached. "You want to have a successful regular season in the conference in order to put yourself in the Little East Conference tournament and try to host a conference game."

This year's team looks to play well and get back into the conference championship game.

The  roster contains 16 student-athletes, ten of whom return from a year ago.  From the senior class are  four-year players and tri-captains Jamie Kohn (Columbia), Hamilton Levy (Woodbury), and Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY), as well as second-year transfer Chae Philips (West Haven).  Hamilton Levy will be playing his senior year without his brother, Jordan, who graduated as a two-year letterwiner last year. The veteran leadership of the seniors will help out the team become united and strive to succeed every day.

The returning juniors are Mike Garrow (Terryville), Tyler Hundley (Cheshire), Joe Ives (Avon), and Chris Robitaille (Canton).

The returning sophomores are Justin Nunez  (Hartford) and Brian Salzillo (North Haven). There are two more sophomores who are transfer students entering their first year on the team:  Hayden Palozej (Stafford) from Endicott College and Tim Quinn (Vernon) from Mitchell College.

The freshman class consists of JC Carr (Bloomfield), Brandon Jones (Stratford), Ray Melvin (New Haven), and Brandon Yarborough (Stamford).  Even though there are four freshmen new to the program, there are a total of six student athletes on the team who are new to the program's system and style that is run by Geitner.

"We've instilled our defensive and offensive philosophies into this group" said Geitner, "and the kids have done a great job of buying in to what we are trying to do on both ends of the court."
The team had suffered a few preseason injuries - including a fractured right hand by Robitaille -- but they are back in action and are ready to play.

Looking at this year's schedule, the team will be taking it one game at a time and focus on the opposition at hand. Each of the student athlete's on the basketball team has put in the time and effort to get better prepared physically and mentally for the season.

"I think they're ready to go", said Geitner. "[The team is] excited to play games, and if we continue to work hard every day, then we're going to end up with a pretty good ball club".


Men's Soccer: Warriors Out of NCAAs


Above: Carl Appel (12) and Aaron Smiles (second from left) were among five seniors whose careers ended in Sunday's NCAA loss.

They are eliminated in second round after allowing three straight goals

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WATCH: Head Coach Greg DeVito (at left) evaluates the match (1:45)

AMHERST, Mass. -  The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team was unable to neutralize Amherst College's strengths and was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament by a score of 4-2 Sunday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.

Ranked No. 8 in New England, Eastern (15-6-1) allowed more than two goals in a match for the first time this year and had a four-game winning streak snapped. Ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 4 nationally, Amherst (16-1-2) advances to the Round of 16 after setting a program record for wins in  a season

"We knew that they were going to be dangerous on re-starts and throw-ins," noted fifth-year Eastern head coach Greg DeVito. "With their size advantage, , we knew that we were going to need to win all second balls, and we weren't able to win all second balls."


Featuring eight players standing between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-5, Amherst scored its first three goals on serves into the box that were re-directed by headers and knocked into the goal when the Warriors were unable to clear the ball out of the box.

At right: Eastern senior defender Matt Esposito (6) defends Amherst junior forward Spencer Noon Sunday afternoon.

Eastern was able to match an early Amherst goal when junior Carl Stensland (Storrs) answered with his  fifth goal of the season five minutes after the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.

After Amherst scored twice in ten minutes to take a 3-1 halftime lead, the Warriors came out strong in the second half and nearly scored twice in the opening minutes. Amherst senior keeper Leonard Kovacs, not called upon for a save in the first half, made his first save when he batted down a close, quick header taken by sophomore Luke Capezzone (Colchester) on  junior Cory Tobler's (Portland) cross from the left. Following an Eastern corner kick, juniors Matt Furman (Montville) and Jon DeCasanova (Glastonbury) unloaded shots in the box but neither was able to get through traffic. Minutes later, Tobler uncorked a quick shot off a pass from DeCasanova, but Kovacs made a diving, one-handed save at the right post.

In the 62nd minute, an unmarked sophomore Jae Heo found room in the middle of the box and sent the ball inside the left post to make it 4-1 to ice the win. DeCasanova's second goal of the year four minutes later rounded out the scoring.

Eight Amherst players contributed a point, with Heo assisting on the first goal, and scoring the tie-breaking goal and his team's fourth goal.

Eastern senior keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ) made four saves and Kovacs three. Eastern had took ten of its 11 shots in the second half. With Eastern trailing by two goals 11 minutes into the second half, Appel kept that margin intact when he leaped to bat junior Spencer Noon's open 16-yard one-timer  over the crossbar






M-XC: Callahan Top Regional Finisher


Callahan72regstory2 XC 300DPI.jpgJunior Tim Callahan (Portland) (above) improved his performance 29 places from a year ago, finishing 174th overall as the top Eastern Connecticut State University runner at the 2011 NCAA Division III New England Regional Men's Cross Country Championships Saturday at Bowdoin College. Callahan, who has been plagued by asthma all season long, led seven Warriors over the 8.000 meter course in a champion won by one point by Williams College in a field of  48 teams. Last year, Callahan was third among Eastern finishers, 203rd overall.  Behind Callahan, six remaining Eastern runners placed within 50 spots of each other, with four finishing as a pack within 15 places of one another. Freshmen David Klein (New Milford) and Austin Baldour (Newtown) were 2-3 for Eastern at 213th and 232nd, respectively. Junior Ryan Franklin (Glastonbury), freshman Lee Cattanach (New London),  senior Bryan Jorge (Bristol) and freshman Kyle Shaw (Lebanon) followed at 236th, 241st, 247th and 263rd, respectively. The meet was the final one of the season for Eastern.

NCAA Division III
New England Regional Cross Country Championships
at Brunswick, ME

Run over 8,000 meters     

    Team Results  

                                          1. Williams 88; 2. Middlebury 89; 3. Bowdoin 160; 4. Bates 161; 5. Tufts U. 175; 6. MIT 195; 7. Brandeis U. 202; 8. Amherst 205; 9. Springfield 211; 10. Wesleyan U. 236; 11. Keene State 303; 12. U. of Southern Maine 326; 13. Connecticut College 354; 14. Colby 442; 15. U.S. Coast Guard Academy 446; 16. Bridgewater State U. 551; 17. Roger Williams U. 581; 18. Westfield State  U. 583; 19. Johnson & Wales U. 585; 20. Babson 648; 21. WPI 656; 22. Lyndon State 672; 23. New England College 701; 24. U. of New England 769; 25. Fitchburg State U. 835; 26. Western New England U. 878; 27. Rhode Island College 882; 28. UMass Dartmouth 889; 29. Norwich U. 903; 30. Trinity (CT) 917; 31. Lesley 925; 32. Salem State U. 946; 33. Mitchell 998; 34. Gordon 1,027; 35. Worcester State U. 1,032; 36. Clark U. 1,046; 37. EASTERN CONN. 1,087; 38. Colby-Sawyer 1,116; 39. Castleton State 1,119; 40. Wheaton (MA) 1,134; 41. Mass College 1,178; 42. Mass. Maritime Academy 1,236; 43. Framingham State U. 1,255; 44. U. of Maine-Farmington 1,278; 45. Lasell 1,299; 46. St. Joseph's (ME) 1,370; 47. Maine Maritime Academy 1,410; 48. Southern Vermont 1,486.

(322 runners)

 174. Tim Callahan 28:04; 213. David Klein 28:59; 232. Austin Baldour 29:15; 236. Ryan Franklin 29:21; 241. Lee Cattanach 29:33; 247. Bryan Jorge 29:48; 263. Kyle Shaw 30:10.

W-XC: At Regional, Warriors Move Up


quinones72dpi_09_26_0327.jpgIn her first season at Eastern in 2009, Amanda Quinones (Trumbull) (above) finished 140th in a field of 315 runners at the NCAA Division III New England Regional Cross Country Championships at Cumberland, ME. Saturday, the senior raced to a finish of 75th among 353 runners to lead the Warriors to a 33rd-place finish among 51 scoring teams at the regional championship, won for the fourth straight season by Middlebury College. The Panthers edged No. 1 nationally-ranked Williams College by five points. Also showing a vast improvement for the Warriors was  junior Cora Gingras (East Hampton), who knocked 35 places off her finish of a year ago in taking 153rd place over the 6,000 meter layout. Eastern's other returning upperclassmen improved their positions from a year ago, with sophomore Katie France (Portland) finishing 167th (203rd in 2010), sophomore Alexa Palasky (Griswold) 231st (255th in 2010) and junior Denica Gagnon (Colchester) 284th (287th in 2010).

NCAA Division III
New England Regional Cross Country Championships
at Brunswick, ME

Run over 6,000 meters

1. Middlebury 55; 2. Williams 60; 3. MIT 134; 4. Amherst 142; 5. Tufts  U.181; 6. Wellesley 186; 7. Keene State 213; 8. Bowdoin 238; 9. Colby 242; 10. Brandeis U.253; 11. Bates 302; 12. Wesleyan  U. 328; 13. U.S. Coast Guard  Academy 449; 14. Westfield State U. 548; 15. U. of Southern Maine 574; t-16. UMass Dartmouth 587; t-16. Connecticut College 587; 18. U. of New England 629; 19. Springfield 646; 20. Worcester State U. 658; t-21. Salve Regina U. 669. t-21. Babson 669; 23. Lesley 683; 24. Smith 692; 25. Trinity (CT) 716; 26. Gordon 758; 27. Mount Holyoke 770; 28. WPI 772; 29. Bridgewater State U. 835; 30. Roger Williams U. 838; 31. Clark U. 850; 32. Wheaton (MA) 855; 33. EASTERN CONN.  908; 34. Husson U. 932; 35. Colby-Sawyer 980; 36. Johnson & Wales  U. 1,028; 37. Lasell 1,172; 38. Endicott 1,175; 39. Salem State U. 1,203; 40. Emmanuel 1,214; 41. U. of Maine-Farmington 1,218; 42. St. Joseph's (ME) 1,231; 43. Western New England U. 1,241; 44. Lyndon State 1,245; 45. Fitchburg State  U. 1,282; 46. Framingham State U. 1,293; 47. Norwich  U. 1,394; 48. Mass College 1,430; 49. Castleton State 1,437; 50. Johnson State 1,642; 51. Bay Path 1,657

(353 runners)

75. Amanda Quinones 23:21; 153. Cora Gingras 24:38. 167. Katie France 24:51; 231. Alexa Palasky 25:57; 284. Denica Gagnon 27:18;  286. Melissa Zablonski 27:23; 304. Kelly Labanara 28:00.

W-Soccer: Blue Jays Oust Warriors

Eastern holds undefeated JHU scoreless for 40 minutes in 6-1 loss

wslecgroup72dpi_8972.jpgBALTIMORE, Md. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer was eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament in a 6-1 loss to undefeated Johns Hopkins University Saturday night at Homewood Field.

Ranked No. 4 nationally, the Blue Jays (20-0-0) snapped a scoreless tie with two goals in the final five minutes of the first half and scored four goals in a span of 20 minutes in the second half. Senior Laura Violette (Wallingford) scored Eastern's goal with eight minutes left - her second of the year -- as the Warriors finish with a record of 11-9-1.

The hosts outshot Eastern 41-4, with Eastern senior keeper Theresa Pagnozzi (Waterford) making a career-high 18 saves over the first 75 minutes when she gave up four goals. Pagnozzi concluded her career with a 16-2-5 record, both losses coming in the NCAA tournament.

Johns Hopkins entered the day as one of three unbeaten, untied teams in Division III and were the winningest undefeated team in the country and featured two of the top 20 scoring leaders in freshman Hannah Kronick and senior Erica Suter.  Suter had a goal and assist on a team-high 11 shots, but  Kronick was held scoreless on six shots. Five different Blue Jays contributed a goal, with sophomore Pamela Vranis scoring her 11th and 12th of the season less than four minutes apart for her team's first two goals of the second half. JHU has totalled 88 goals this year and has outscored its opponent by a 11-1 margin.

Eastern qualified for the tournament by winning the Little East Conference championship on penalty kicks Sunday while JHU had posted two shutouts in the Continental Conference tournament. In its last 11 matches, JHU has posted eight shutouts and surrendered one goal in each of the other three.

W-Swim: Eastern Dominates at UMD

Warriors win seven of 12 individual events at UMass Dartmouth Invite

rivers head 72dpi_5127.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Senior Nadine Menard (Woodstock) and sophomore Amanda Rivers (Meriden) each won two events for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim  team Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational at the Tripp Athletic Center.

At left: Amanda Rivers

In the non-scoring meet, five eastern swimmers - four of them sophomores -- combined for seven first-place finishes. Menard won the 200 yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly, Rivers captured the 50 and 100 freestyle, sophomore Michelle Schapp (Torrington) the 50 backstroke, sophomore Erin McVeigh (Windsor) the 500 freestyle, and sophomore Colleen King (Barkamsted) the 50 butterfly.

Eastern swimmers won seven of the 14 events and seven of the 12 individual competitions.

In addition to their two first-place finishes, Rivers was second to King in the 50 butterfly and Menard was third in the 100 breaststroke. McVeigh added a second in the 200 freestyle in an event where Eastern swimmers claimed 2-3-4. Sophomore Becky Odgers (Shelton) was third and sophomore Marissa Colley (East Haven) fourth.

Schapp also contributed a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke and King a fourth in the 50 breaststroke.  Both Eastern relays also came in second. Rivers, first-year junior Jen O'Leary (West Suffield), King and McVeigh teamed on the 200 medley relay and, and Schapp, Colley, Rivers and Odgers combined on the 400 freestyle relay.

In addition to Eastern, additional  teams competing from the Little East Conference were  host UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College and Plymouth State University, as well as non-conference opponents Bridgewater State University  and Westfield State University. Eastern, Westfield and UMass Dartmouth combined for all 14 first-place finishes.

Eastern visits Saint Joseph College (CT) Saturday at 11 a.m.

Men's Soccer: Warriors Advance, 2-0


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msaftersc72dpi_9259.jpgALL SMILES: In photo above, Matt Esposito (left) and Bradley Fletcher (right) celebrate Aaron Smiles' (center) first goal in three years that gave the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team an early 1-0 lead on the way to a 2-0 victory over Springfield College Saturday morning in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Hitchcock Field on the Amherst College campus.


AMHERST, Mass. --  Senior back Aaron Smiles (Bedford, MA) scored his first goal in 50 matches to give the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team an early lead and the Warriors went on to a 2-0 victory over Springfield College Saturday morning in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Hitchcock Field.

A winner of six of its last seven, third-seeded Eastern (15-5-1) will face top-seeded Amherst College (15-1-2) Sunday at 1 p.m. in a second-round match at Hitchcock Field. Ranked fourth in Division III and first in New England,  Amherst  eliminated fourth-seeded Husson University, 4-0,  in Saturday's second match.

The winner will move into the Round of 16 next weekend at a location to be determined.

ecsuscaction72dpi_9192.jpgSmiles, who had not scored a goal since the eighth match of his sophomore year, gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead  12 minutes into action when he knocked the ball off the right post and past Springfield freshman keeper Brett Bascom. The play originated on  a corner kick by sophomore back Christopher Giustina (Enfield) from the right side. The corner sailed through the box, where junior midfielder Carl Stensland (Storrs) collected it and found Smiles near the top of the box, who fired it off the right post.

The Warriors added a second goal with 8:38 left in the first half when sophomore forward Tom Vear (Monson, MA) scored his fourth goal of the season after being inserted into the lineup six minutes earlier on an assist from junior midfielder Jon DeCasanova (Glastonbury).

Eastern senior keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ) recorded his tenth shutout of the season - 30th of his career. Appel needed only one save - than coming when he grabbed the re-direct of a header by Drew Vanasse in the first 30 seconds of the second half. The shutout extended the second record to  14 for Eastern, which has won all but one of its matches this season by shutout.

Each team recorded 11 shots, but none by Springfield were dangerous.  Appel's most difficult play came with Eastern leading 2-0 with 13 minutes left when he collided with Eric Stalsburg to break up a potential dangerous play at the left post, and clear the ball over the end line.

The Warriors nearly added a third goal inside the final minute of play when Stensland carried into the box, maintaining possession despite being tightly marked,  and firing a low shot which carried wide of the left post.

The win over Springfield in the second meeting ever between the programs (Springfield eliminated Eastern in the first round of the 1975 ECAC tournament) evens Eastern's post-season tournament record under fifth-year head coach Greg DeVito at 4-4. Last year, Eastern blanked Nichols College, 1-0, for its first NCAA win ever before the Warriors were eliminated in the second round by Bowdoin College.

No current Eastern player has faced Amherst, which defeated the Warriors by a 2-1 score in 2007 at Hitchcock Field.  The hosts won the game with a goal off a corner kick with 75 seconds left in regulation. A win Sunday ties the program record for wins in a season, set in 1969 and equaled two years ago.


Soccer: Parttime Pay, Fulltime Passion

Despite time limitations, coaches have developed quality programs


Above: Greg DeVito (left) and Chris D'Ambrosio

Men's Match: LIVE VIDEO! - 11 am

Women's Match: LIVE VIDEO/STATS, 5 p.m.-

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WILLIMANTIC,Conn. -- By day, Greg DeVito is a fulltime faculty member at E.O. Smith High School. By night, Chris D'Ambrosio works  fulltime for the State of Connecticut with the Department of Developmental Services.

At right: Head women's coach Chris D'Ambrosio (background) and long-time assistant Ken Goodale (foreground).

In their spare time, the pair have made the soccer programs at Eastern Connecticut State University the envy of the Little East Conference, to say nothing of vaulting them into the regional and national limelight.

Saturday morning, DeVito leads the men's team into their fifth straight post-season tournament when they face Springfield College at 11 a.m. in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Hitchcock Field on the campus of Amherst College.

Some six hours later and 400 miles to the south, D'Ambrosio will be at the forefront when the women's soccer team kicks off  NCAA tournament play against homestanding Johns Hopkins University at 5 p.m. at Homestead Field on the JHU campus.

It's common knowledge that developing a winning program at the college level is a difficult, time-consuming process. Throw into that coaching mix a fulltime job and family and personal responsibilities, and the difficulty of creating and maintaining a successful program can be multiplied at least two-fold.

devito_action72__5621.jpgBoth DeVito, a Norwalk native and University of Connecticut graduate, and D'Ambrosio, a Coventry native and St. Thomas University (FL) graduate, joined their respective soccer programs at Eastern as assistant coaches. Three years later, they were appointed head coaches.

At left: Greg DeVito directed the men's soccer program to its third straight NCAA tournament this fall.

DeVito replaced Frantz Innocent when the latter retired after a 17-year (parttime, as well) tenure. D'Ambrosio stepped in for his hometown buddy, Matt Paton, after Paton  was offered an assistant coaching position at the University of Colorado.

Neither DeVito nor D'Ambrosio needed much time to apply an indelible mark to their respective programs.

All five of DeVito's season at the helm have been punctuated by trips to a post-season tournament. Three times, the Warriors have won the Little East Conference tournament and with it, an automatic berth in the NCAAs. Last year, they were selected on an at-large basis after losing in the LEC tournament semifinals, and in 2008, they were the No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament.

Every season, the Warriors have won at least ten matches under DeVito - the first time in the 51-year history of the program that this has been accomplished -- and have compiled a .745 winning percentage, which is easily the best winning percentage among the five coaches in program history.

Giving more credence to DeVito's accomplishments is the fact that until his arrival the program and qualified for post-season play only once in the previous 29 seasons and in the previous eight LEC tournaments, had failed to qualify four times and bowed out in the first round the other four years.

Twelve seasons into his head coaching career, D'Ambrosio is the all-time winningest head coach in the program's 26-year history with 146 victories. He also has compiled the highest winning percentage (.679) among the five coaches in program history.

With D'Ambrosio, the Warriors have lost more than one LEC regular-season match only twice. They have won or shared four conference regular-season championships and have won more LEC tournaments (4) in the last nine years than any other conference institution.

DeVito has been coaching soccer on a variety of levels for nearly 20 years. Prior to his appointment as Innocent's assistant, he had spent six years coaching girls' soccer at E.O. Smith, averaging 12 wins per year in three seasons as head coach. He began as assistant boys' coach with the state power boys' soccer team at Smith.

D'Ambrosio has coached both boys and girls' soccer, coming to Eastern after 11 successful seasons at Coventry High School with the girls' program. He has worked for the State of Connecticut for nearly 25 years, primarily on third shift. After catching a few hours sleep in the morning, he arrives at Eastern for practice or a game or to meet a recruit. Later that night, he will many times return to work in time for his 11 p.m. shift.

Making additional demands on D'Ambrosio's time are his two teenage boys who are involved in both travel and high school soccer.

Between games, travel, practices, scouting, recruiting and fundraising, each coach estimates working a 35-40 hour week during a ten-week soccer season.

Through the first week of November, D'Ambrosio says that he has additionally arranged two dozen campus visits for high school recruits.

There are two common denominators to both coach's success at Eastern: a passion for the game and time-management skills.

"With any situation like this, you have to love what you do," points out DeVito. "It doesn't really simulate work when you really enjoy it. And as the years go by, I've learned to make more time for myself and make sure that I don't' get to the point where I am overwhelmed, because if you are overwhelmed, it's not fun anymore. There's enough time in the day -- if you manage your time - to keep that anticipation  and fun and always look forward to the next day."

D'Ambrosio echos those comments: "Just trying to balance your schedule is one of the most difficult things," says D'Ambrosio, who labels the fall as 'chaotic.' "The time commitment is unbelievable. For me, 'organization' has become a strength. I know the amount of time that I have and the amount of time I need to do something in. "But the first few years," he admits, "were overwhelming."

Each coach points out that the contributions of his assistant coaches have been instrumental in the success of the program. D'Ambrosio's close friend, Ken Goodale, has shared the sideline with him for the last 11 seasons. DeVito has been assisted by Adam Phaniah in each of his five seasons and Jay Barney for four and Matt Weston for three. Goodale's roots go back to the early 1980s when the program began on the club level. Phaiah is an alumnus of the program and Barney a former standout goalkeeper who backstopped the team to its first LEC tournament title in DeVito's inaugural season in 2007..

After 25 years coaching girls and women, D'Ambrosio is well-versed on the need to communicate effectively and motivate his female players. "You have to be able to talk to them," he notes. "You need to say 'let's have a conversation'. Yelling and screaming at players - especially women - doesn't work. The chemistry is really important. The women have to want to work for each other. They have to get along."

Like D'Ambrosio, DeVito has developed a rapport with his players over the years and feels that communication and trust are imperative to building a successful program, especially when the coach isn't available to monitor activities on a fulltime basis. He looks upon the student-athletes as the building blocks of developing a national program.

Points out DeVito: "We have guys in the program who are willing to work hard all the time when they are not being watched all the time, and guys who are willing to do the right thing even when I'm not there to stand over them. Adds DeVito: "We have a group of guys who have bought into what it is that we are trying to teach them, and that what we are trying to stress to them is important."



Soccer: Warriors Open NCAAs Saturday

Women visit unbeaten Johns Hopkins; men face Springfield at Amherst


Men's Match: LIVE VIDEO! - 11 am

Women's Match: LIVE VIDEO/STATS, -

5 pm

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - For the third consecutive time, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's and women's soccer teams will be competing in their  respective NCAA Division III tournaments in the same year and will play first-round matches on the road Saturday.

At left: Accepting the LEC championship trophy are seniors (from left) Theresa Pagnozzi, Sam Konopka, Jo-Ann Merheb, Amber Petrizzo and Laura Violette.

Both teams qualified automatically after winning their respective Little East Conference championships over the weekend for the second time in three years. The top-seeded men defeated second-seeded Keene State College, 1-0, Saturday at Thomas Nevers Field in the LEC final and the second-seeded women got past top-seeded Keene State College Sunday with a 3-2 penalty-kick decision after the teams had played 110 scoreless minutes at Keene, NH.

msoccaptainslec72_8442.jpgAt left: Accepting the LEC championship trophy from Commissioner Jonathan Harper are senior co-captains Carl Appel (center) and Sean Collins.

The Eastern men (14-5-1), ranked No. 9 in New England, face Springfield College (10-4-4) at Hitchcock Field on the campus of Amherst College Saturday at 11 a.m. in a regional which includes host Amherst College and Husson University squaring off at 1:30 p.m.  Eastern is competing in a post-season tournament for the fifth straight year and in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in that span. The Warriors have qualified on an automatic basis for the NCAA tournament twice and have been selected on an at-large basis twice. Unranked Springfield qualified for its first NCAA tournament in 12 years after defeating No.12 nationally-ranked Babson College on penalty kicks (4-3) following a 1-1 overtime draw in the championship match of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournamentSunday.

The Eastern women (11-8-1) qualified for their third straight NCAA tournament and fifth in the last nine years and will visit No. 4 nationally-ranked and unbeaten (19-0-0) Johns Hopkins University Saturday at 5 p.m. at Homewood Field in the first of two regional matches at Baltimore. At 7:30, Springfield College meets Cabrini College. Sunday's regional final is scheduled for 5 p.m. In 2009, Eastern qualified for the NCAA tournament by defeating top-seeded Keene State College on its home field in the Little East title game; last year, the Warriors gained an at-large bid on the strength of an unbeaten record,  and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament after winning the New England regional. Johns Hopkins advanced to the national quarterfinals a year ago before losing to eventual national runner-up Messiah College.

The Eastern men have faced Springfield only once - 36 years ago - when the Pride eliminated the Warriors in the first round of the ECAC tournament, 3-1, at Springfield, MA.The Eastern women and JHU will be meeting for the first time.

The Eastern men and women are the only Little East Conference institutions competing in the NCAA tournament.


Little East Tabs Ten From Eastern

Smiles of men's soccer team is four-time all-conference selection

smiles action72_6002.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. --  Senior back Aaron Smiles (Bedford, MA) of the men's soccer team and junior forward Daniela Marchitto (Orange) of the women's soccer team have been recognized with major awards by the Little East Conference in its season-ending awards program, it has been announced today.

Above: Aaron Smiles (Cristina Danielson photo)

Smiles was named Defensive Player-of-the-Year and Marchitto Offensive Player-of-the-Year and were among ten Eastern athletes in three sports recognized for their performances this past fall.

Smiles became only the second Eastern player in 23 years of LEC men's soccer to be named to the all-conference team as many as four times, joining two-time Offensive Player-of-the-Year Maxim Fantl (2006-2009). Smiles was named to the first team for the third straight year after earning second-team recognition as a freshman in 2008.

Marchitto was named to the first team twice in three years, repeating the first-team honor in 2009 when she was additionally recognized as Rookie-of-the-Year. She was a second-team choice last season.  Marchitto becomes the program's tenth Player-of-the-Year in the last 16 years - fifth in the last four years.

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At left: Daniela Marchitto

A total of  four Eastern players were named to the 13-person first team - the most of any of the eight conference teams. Junior forward Matt Furman (Montville) repeated as a first-team selection, senior keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ)  was named to the all-conference team for the third time. He was a first-team pick this year and in 2009 and a second-teamer in 2010. Earning recognition for the first time were senior back Matt Esposito (East Haven) and second-team selection Cory Tobler (Portland), a junior forward.

Joining Marchitto on the women's first team  were senior back Amber Petrizzo (Plainville) and junior midfielder Kelly Wallace (South Windsor), while sophomore midfielder Tamar Merheb (Bethel) was a second-team pick. Wallace repeated on the first team and Petrizzo was a second-teamer in 2010.

Junior back Lauren DeLuca (South Windsor) was a third-team selection for the field hockey program, which was presented the Team Sportsmanship Award for the second time in three years.

During the year, Smiles was voted LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Week three times, Appel Goalkeeper-of-the-Week twice, Tobler and Furman Offensive Player-of-the-Week once each, and Esposito was tabbed as the LEC tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Smiles started all 17 matches in which he appeared (missing three with a concussion), averaging 82.2 minutes per match and contributing five assists to push his career total in that department o 29 - the most by an Eastern player in at least the last 22 seasons.

In seven regular-season conference matches this year, Appel allowed only one goal for a 0.14 goals-against average. In conference regular-season play, he also led the loop in save percentage (.968) and shutouts (5).  Overall, he has posted nine full shutouts in backstopping the team to a program-record 13. He is 12-5-1 with a 0.55 GAA and .885 save percentage, ranking seventh nationally in save percentage and 15th in GAA. As a team, Eastern ranks third in save percentage, fourth in shutout percentage, and sixth in GAA.

The overall Little East scoring leader as a sophomore, Furman shared the conference lead this season in conference matches with four and was third with nine points. He leads Eastern against this year with nine goals (a team-high four game-winners) and 22 points, giving him 25 goals (11 game-winners) and 17 assists in his 55-game Eastern career. His 67 total points rank him second among all players in the last 22 seasons.

A four-year player, Esposito played both back and midfield this year. He has started 17 matches and has contributed six goals (tied for second on the team) and 14 points (tie for third). His penalty-kick goal early in the LEC championship game stood up in the Warriors' 1-0 victory over Keene State College last Saturday at Thomas Nevers Field.

A starter in 16 matches, Tobler is second on the team with 16 points and is second to Furman with three game-winners. In 62 career games, he has 15 goals and 13 assists for 43 points, with six game-winners.

The Eastern men (14-5-1) open play in their fifth straight straight post-season tournament Saturday at 11 a.m. against Springfield College at Amherst, MA. The Warriors, ranked eighth in New England, qualified automatically for the NCAA tournament with a 1-0 victory over Keene State in the conference championship game Saturday.

Marchitto was selected as the conference's Offensive Player-of-the-Week in the first report of the season. Also a first-team all-conference selection in lacrosse last season, Marchitto leads the conference in assists (7) and is second in goals (15) and points (37). She has contributed a point in 14 of 20 matches, including seven straight heading into Sunday's LEC final, won on penalty kicks by Eastern over top-seeded Keene State College at Keene, NH. Marchitto's goal was the only one of the match in a semifinal-round home win over Western Connecituct.

Marchitto's point total is currently the fourth-highest in a season in program history and her goal mark equals the fourth-highest.  Heading into NCAA play, Marchitto ranks third all-time in goals (33), tied for fifth in points (79), and sixth in game-winning goals (10).

A fifth-year senior, Petrizzo joins Marchitto as the only players on the team to start all 20 matches. She leads all  players with 1,637 minutes , an average of 81.9 and has played every minute of 12 matches this year, eight of them coming in succession beginning in mid-September.

A three-year starter, Wallace has started 18 matches this year with four goals and three assists. She assisted on Marchitto's winning goal against Western Connecticut  and knocked in the game-winning penalty kick Sunday against Keene State. She shares seventh place all-time with 19 career assists, ten coming as a freshman.

Merheb has been a two-year starter, teaming at midfield with Wallace.  She has started 18 matches and is second on the team in points (15) and tied for second in goals (6). She has played every minutes 12 times (six straight) and averages 77.5 minutes. Her unassisted goal on a free kick in the 80th minute Oct. 17 provided Eastern with a key 2-1 home conference victory over UMass Boston.

The Eastern women (11-8-1) open play in their fifth NCAA tournament in the last nine years Saturday when they visit No. 4 nationally-ranked and unbeaten Johns Hopkins University at 5 p.m.

A second-year player, DeLuca  becomes the field hockey program's  12th all-conference selection in 11 years.  She becomes only the third Eastern player to be named on defense, following Erika Profenno in 2004 and 2005 and Kristin Therkelsen in 2002. DeLuca let the conference with nine defensive saves. The Warriors finished 3-15, 0-11 in the conference.

All-Conference Selections

Carl Appel-1   Sr. K West Windsor, NJ First Team
Matt Esposito   Sr. B East Haven  First Team
Matt Furman-2  Jr. F Montville  First Team
Aaron Smiles-3  Sr. B Bedford, MA  First Team
Cory Tobler   Jr. F Portland  Second Team

Defensive Player-of-the-Year
Aaron Smiles

1-First team in 2009, Second team in 2010 2-First team in 2010
3-Second team in 2008, First team in 2009 and 2010

Daniela Marchitto-a  Jr. F Orange   First Team
Amber Petrizzo-b  Sr. B Plainville  First Team
Kelly Wallace-c  Jr. MF South Windsor First Team
Tamar Merheb   So. MF Bethel   Second Team

Offensive Player-of-the-Year
Daniela Marchitto

a-First team and Rookie-of-the-Year in 2009, Second team in 2010.
b-Second team in 2010
c-First team in 2010

Lauren DeLuca   Jr. B South Windsor Third Team

Team Sportsmanship Award

Eastern Connecticut State University





W-Soccer: PKs Give Warriors Title

wscelebrate72dpi_8922.jpgWATCH NCAA Selection Show -- Monday, 2p.m. 

Second seed downs No. 1 seed Keene to qualify for third straight NCAA

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WATCH: Post-game interviews with Theresa Pagnozzi (2:13) (far left), Head Coach Chris D'Ambrosio  (3:04) (near left) 

KEENE, N.H. -- The second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team qualified for its third straight NCAA Division III tournament with a 3-2 penalty-kick shootout win over top-seeded Keene State College in the championship game of the 2011 Little East Conference tournament Sunday afternoon at the Owl Stadium Complex. The game is officially recorded as a 0-0 double-overtime tie.

The LEC tournament title is the fourth in nine years for Eastern (11-8-1) - the Warriors are 3-1 in title games against Keene State (13-7-2) -- and provides it with an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, the program's fifth NCAA appearance in 12 seasons under head coach Chris D'Ambrosio.

The teams played 110 scoreless minutes before penalty kicks decided the 2011 champion. Sophomore Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, NJ), senior Jo-Ann Merheb (Bethel) and junior Kelly Wallace (South Windsor) converted PKs for Eastern and senior goalkeeper Theresa Pagnozzi (Waterford) made saves on three of Keene's five attempts.


Shooting second, Eastern trailed 2-1 after the first three rounds of PKs, but Pagnozzi made a critical save on Alex Haley and Merheb converted her ensuing attempt to tie it at 2-2. Pagnozzi, named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player,  then got a hand on Keene's fifth attempt with a dive to her right to knock it off the post and keep the competition tied, and Wallace sent Eastern to the NCAA tournament when she cleanly beat Keene senior keeper Megan Dempsey with a drive to the upper-left corner of the net.

At right: This save by Theresa Pagnozzi in the fourth round of penalty kicks was the biggest factor in the team's 3-2 verdict.

"Both teams came out attacking, and had a couple of good (scoring) chances," said D'Ambrosio. "Theresa (Pagnozzi) made a couple of great saves and their keeper pulled one off the goal line, but it was more of a defensive and midfield game. Both defenses were tough to crack. It's a shame," noted D'Ambrosio, "that you've got to go that far and get into penalty kicks, but it was a great conference final."

Eastern's starting defense of seniors Amber Petrizzo (Plainville) and Sam Konopka (Hebron), sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester) and freshman Whitney Mantel (Stamford) -- spent a large portion of the match neutralizing Keene's offensive pressure. Offensively, Eastern junior Daniela Marchitto (Orange), the team scoring leader with 15 goals, was rendered virtually ineffective due to a left knee injury sustained in Friday's semifinal win and aggravated early in Sunday's final.

defilippoksc72_8754.jpgBehind the offensive efforts of junior Joan Hamel, Keene had more and better chances to crack the scoreless tie, especially in the second half and overtime, but the 5-foot-9 inch Pagnozzi made a handful of strong plays to keep the match scoreless. One came early in the second half and two came in the first overtime, but she saved her best play for the waning seconds of the second overtime when she denied Hamel's one-on-one opportunity by coming off her line and cutting down the angle on a breakaway. In the first overtime, Hamel found room in the box and headed a free kick that sailed just over the cross bar. Minutes later, Pagnozzi stopped a low shot by Hamel with a dive to the right post.

Above: Christine DeFilippo leaves a Keene defender in her wake in the first half of Sunday's victory.

In the second half, Eastern had at least two prime chances. The first followed a corner kick by Eastern junior Chelsea Downer (Colchester). Eastern took a shot in the box that Dempsey knocked down with a dive to her right toward the left post, then reached back to grab the loose ball just before it crossed the goal line. On the second one, Keene junior back Jane Walsh headed an Eastern shot off the line.

Eastern won for the fourth time in five matches against Keene in the LEC final, with three of the wins coming on Keene's field. In 2003, the Warriors won their first championship with a penalty-kick decision over Keene.

The Owls had won all seven of their regular-season conference matches - including a 2-0 verdict at home over Eastern Oct. 8 - and had eliminated fourth-seeded Massachusetts Boston on penalty kicks in Friday's semifinal. Eastern finished second  in the conference and edged third-seeded Western Connecticut, 1-0, in Friday's semifinal at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. The shutout was the fifth straight for Eastern, which has played Pagnozzi and junior Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield) in goal for one half each in the last four matches.

Sunday, MacLeod shut out Keene in the first half before Pagnozzi played the second half and wallaceksc72dpi_8775.jpgovertime and was in net for the penalty-kick session. The pair combined for a season-high 16 saves on 31 Keene shots -- nearly twice as many saves as required in any match this season.

Last year's starting goalie on a 16-1-5 team, Pagnozzi saw her first action of 2011 in the second half of a 7-0 victory at Manhattanville College 11 days ago.She started and gained credit for a 6-0 win over UMass Dartmouth on the final day of the regular season a week ago Saturday and was credited with the 1-0 win over Western in the tournament semifinals Friday when she played the second half.

At right: Kelly Wallace's successful penalty kick in the final round sparked the Warriors' winning celebration.

It marked the second  time in three years that the Eastern men and women have captured LEC tournament titles in the same season. Yesterday, the men won their third crown in five years with a 1-0 home victory over Keene State In 2009, the men edged UMass Dartmouth, 1-0, at home and the women defeated Keene, 1-0, at Keene, on the same day.

The location of Eastern's first-round NCAA tournament game will be announced Monday.


W-Swimming: Balance Sparks Win

Five individuals combine for six first-place finishes in home-opener

smoragiewicz head raw_5131.JPGWILLIMANTIC,Conn. - Five different individuals combined for six first-place finishes as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team opened its dual-meet season Saturday afternoon with a 142-97 victory over Western Connecticut State University at the Sports Center Pool.

At left: Kayla Smoragiewicz

 Sophomore Amanda Rivers (Meriden) won the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events, senior Nadine Menard (Woodstock) captured the 200 butterfly, sophomores Becky Odgers (Shelton) and Michelle Schapp (Torrington) the 1000 freestyle and and 500 freestyle, respectively, and freshman Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) the 100 backstroke.

Eastern swimmers claimed the top three spots in two individual events and  at least three of the top four in all 12 individual events. The 200 medley relay of Rivers, first-year junior Jen O'Leary (West Suffield), sophomore Colleen King (Barkhamsted) and sophomore Erin McVeigh (Windsor) opened the meet with a one-second victory and the 200 freestyle relay of sophomore Marissa Colley (East Haven), Schapp, McVeigh and Rivers was the fastest at the finish by just over two seconds on an exhibition basis in the  final event of the day.

Two sophomores  equally split Western's six first-place finishes. Katherine Meerman, last year's Little East Conference Rookie Swimmer-of-the-Year and LEC winner in the 100 and 200 backstroke and 500 freestyle, captured the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly Saturday, and Danielle Leprine claimed Western's other three firsts in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Eastern visits Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday for a noon start.


W-Volleyball: Plymouth Has Too Much

 Top-seeded Panthers attack at .405 in LEC semifinal sweep of Warriors

vbteam201172dpi_6560.jpgPLYMOUTH, NH -  The fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team attacked 55 percent points higher than its season average Saturday afternoon against top-seeded Plymouth State University in the semifinal-round of the 2011 Little East Conference tournament at Foley Gymasium.

The problem was that the host Panthers attacked over 150 percent points better than their average and eliminated the Warriors in straight sets, 25-21, 25-17, 25-18.

A winner of six straight and 11 of 12, Plymouth (23-9) moves into the tournament championship match for the fourth time, looking for its second title. The Panthers meet No. 2 seed and two-time defending champion Massachusetts Boston Sunday at noon. The Beacons bounced back from a first-set loss to edge No. 3 seed Keene State College later Saturday.

Led by senior Samantha Slonski (Griswold), Eastern (20-10) attacked at .235 Saturday but Plymouth checked in at .405, commiting only four attack errors all afternoon long in snapping Eastern's four-match winning streak.

Junior Casey Stoodley  and sophomore Allie Jones combined for 28 kills with just one hitting error for Plymouth, which swept Eastern for the second time in two weeks, with none of those sets being decided by more than eight points.Stoodley had 16 kills with no errors while Jones contributed 12 kills and just one error.

Slonski had 12 kills and a .296 atack percentage while collecting nine digs and 11 assists.  Junior Katie Wilson (Pittsburg, CA) chipped in with nine kills and senior Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton)  added five kills and  three service aces. Senior Taylor Abelli (Cheshire) and sophomore Erynn Miller (Stratford) paced the back row defenders with 13 and 11 digs, respectively.

Plymouth jumped out to a quick five-point lead in the first set, and maintained the lead the whole way.  Eastern rallied midway through the set to pull within a point at 18-17, but Plymouth won five of the next six points to pull away.  Slonski added a pair of kills to keep Eastern close, but a Tedeschi kill and Jones block closed out the set, 25-21.

The second set was another tight battle. The Panthers never trailed, but didn't lead by more than four points until the end.  With Eastern within two points at 14-12, Plymouth went on a 6-2 run to open up a 20-14 margin. Morin added a pair of kills and Tedeschi and Cady added a block to finish off the set, 25-17.

The Panthers opened up a five-point early in the third set.  Eastern played tough, rallying to cut the deficit to 11-9, but the hosts took over at that point with eight of the next  10 points to make it 18-11.

Senior setter Sarah Cady had 40 assists for Plymouth, which also got seven kills from senior Meghan Sullivan, six from sophomore Kaitlyn Tedeschi and five from junior Elissa Morin. Senior Danielle Stoodley  recorded a team-high 16 digs.

  Plymouth, which shocked heavily-favored UMass Boston in straight sets 11 days ago in Boston, will meet UMass  in the final for the second time in three years. The Panthers won their only LEC title in 2004, over Eastern. The Panthers were second to Western Connecticut in 2003 and second to UMass Boston in 2009. UMass Boston is making its fourth (straight) LEC finals appearance. The Beacons lost to Keene State in 2008, beat Plymouth in 2009 and downed Keene State in last year's final.

Eastern returned to the LEC tournament this season after a one-year's absence, stopping fourth-seeded Western Connecticut Tuesday in the first round in five sets.

Under first-year head coach Pete Maneggia, Eastern turned around last year's 13-15 campaign to post its second 20-win season in four years and record its best winning percentage in five years.

Abelli concluded her career ranked second all-time with 1,869 digs and Slonski was seventh with 1,826 assists. Ibsen ranks fifth in kills (1,151) and total attacks (2,846) and seventh in attack percentage (.271).

Plymouth State University Sports Information Office contributed to this report.


Men's Soccer: 2011 LEC Champion!


Top-seeded Warriors earn fifth straight post-season bid with 1-0 win over Keene



WATCH: Post-game interview with Matt Esposito. (2:30)

WILLIMANTIC,Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team remained undefeated in three trips to the Little East Conference playoff  final with a 1-0 victory over 2010 champion Keene State College Saturday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.

At left: Matt Esposito is presented the MVP Award by LEC Commissioner Jonathan Harper.

Senior Matt Esposito's (East Haven) penalty kick goal 5:30 into the match was the difference and sent top-seeded Eastern (14-5-1) to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in the last five years.  The post-season tournament appearance will be the fifth straight for Eastern under fifth-year head coach Greg DeVito, now 70-25-11 in his Eastern coaching career.

Esposito deposited the game-winning penalty kick under the cross bar after Eastern junior Carl Stensland (Storrs) was knocked off his feet in the penalty box by Keene  (11-8-0)  senior Kevin Gomes. The goal was the sixth of the season and first in six games for Esposito, who recorded his first game-winning goal since his freshman season in 2008.

Esposito, named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, had a chance to make it 2-0 when he was awarded another penalty kick with 16 minutes left in the first half, but Keene sophomore keeper Malcom Cheney guessed correctly and made the save when he dove to his left. That PK was awarded when Eastern junior Matt Furman (Montville) was hauled down in the box by Keene freshman Nate Banas.

Two of the three saves by Eastern senior keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ) preserved Eastern's one-goal lead. The first came midway through the first period when the All-Region keeper denied Keene junior Danny Silverman with a dive to his right. With three minutes left in the first, Keene caught Appel away from the goal and was initially prevented  from putting a shot on net as the keeper scrambled back to his mark. In the box, freshman Michael Jacques finally fired a shot through traffic but Appel left his feet and hauled in the shot with a dive to his left.

appelsave72dpi_8167.jpgAppel's career-high ninth shutout of the season and 29th of his career extended Eastern's season record in that category to 13. The shutout was the second this year against Keene for Appel, who made  one save in a 3-0 victory Oct. 8 at Nevers Field.

At left: This save with three minutes left in the first half by Carl Appel preserved the shutout. (Cristina Danielson photo)

Cheney made  five saves, one coming with 18 minutes left in the first half on a header by Furman off a free kick from senior Aaron Smiles (Bedford, MA). Cheney collected the shot at the right post to keep the margin at one goal.

Another Eastern opportunity went by the boards midway through the second half when sophomore Zach Kice's (Denver, CO) header off a feed from Smiles sailed over the cross bar.

Eastern has not given up a goal in three LEC title games. In its previous title game appearances, Eastern shut out Massachusetts Dartmouth, 1-0, in 2009 at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex and won a penalty-kick shootout over Keene State for its first championship in 2007 at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.  Keene is 6-3 in title game appearances.

In nine LEC regular-season and playoff games this year, Eastern  was 8-1 and featured a 21-1 advantage in goals and 95-70 lead in shots. Furman had four of the goals, Stensland and sophomore Mitch Power (Douglas, MA) three each and Kice had five assists. Appel played all but 14 minutes in those game with eight shutouts and a 0.11 goals-against average and .974 save percentage.

Eastern's 14 wins matches its total of a year ago and is two shy of the program record set in 2009.  The Warriors have won at least ten matches five straight seasons -- the first time in the program's 51-year history that this has been accomplished. 

Eastern will open in the NCAA tournament with either a first-round match Thursday or second-round contest Sunday.



W-Soccer: Warriors Advance to Final

 Marchitto's 15th goal lifts team to 1-0 LEC semifinal win over Western


MANSFIELD, Conn. - Junior  forward Daniela Marchitto (Orange) scored her 15th goal of the season in the 57th minute and junior Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield) and senior Theresa Pagnozzi (Waterford) combined on the team's seventh shutout as No 2  seed Eastern Connecticut State University moved into the Little East Confereence women's soccer final with a 1-0 win over No. 3 seed Western Connecticut State University Friday night at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

Above The Warriors celebrate following their 1-0 LEC semifinal win Friday .

 A winner of a season-high four matches in a row, Eastern (11-8-0) visits top-seeded Keene State College (13-7-1) Sunday at 1p.m., with the winner being awarded an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Keene advanced to the final with a 3-1 penalty kick victory over No. 4 seed Massachusetts Boston Friday at Keene, NH after the teams had played to a 1-1 overtime draw. Keene converted three of its four penalty kicks and UMass missed three of its four.

Marchitto, who has a goal in five straight matches and a point in seven in a row,  took a return pass from junior midfielder Kelly Wallace (South Windsor) and carried it full stride down the left side of the field before sending a left-footed shot from a difficult angle between Western (13-7-0) keeper Caitlin Avery and the left post for what proved to be her fourth game-winning goal of the season and 33rd career goal.

Making her third (straight) appearance of the season, Pagnozzi made two saves in the second half to gain her second win of the year and 16th of her career against a loss and four ties.

In a scoreless game nine minutes into the second half, Eastern unloaded three consecutive shots (among its four in the half) from in front of the goal but came away empty. Sophomore back Megan Godwin (Manchester) hit the right post with the first shot and two subsequent shots were knocked down by Avery.
Ten minutes into the second half with the game still scoreless, Pagnozzi timed her  leap perfectly to haul in a free kick by Western's Erika Moran for the most difficult of the eight combined saves by the goalkeeping duo in the match.

Marchitto's attempt at an insurance goal on a one-timer with 14 minutes left off passes from senior back Amber Petrizzo (Plainville) and sophomore midfielder Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, NJ) was nullified due to an offside call.

Western, which leads all conference teams with seven titles, had won nine of 11 matches this year on its opponents' field entering the match, including five straight. The Colonials had edged sixth-seeded Plymouth State, 2-1, on the road Wednesday night in a first-round match. Despite being the higher seed, Western was forced to play away from home because its turf field was unplayable due to snow.

It marks the first time that Eastern has defeated Western in six LEC tournament games. Western has won three times and two ended it ties before penalty kicks determined which team would advance in the tournament or which team would be declared the tournament champion. In addition to Western's three wins, each team advanced on penalty kicks once following the two ties.

Eastern defeated 2010 LEC tournament champion Western, 2-0, in the regular season Oct. 1 at Danbury for its third straight win over the Colonials since losing to Western, 2-1, in the 2008 LEC final at Danbury.

Keene defeated Eastern, 2-0, Oct. 8 at Keene, NH. Eastern has won two LEC tournament titles, both times over Keene, most recently with a 1-0 victory  at Keene, NH in 2009. Keene has won two titles as well, most recently in 2004 with a 3-0 victory over Eastern at Keene, NH. In LEC finals, Eastern is 2-1 against Keene and was also awarded the 2003 title over the Owls with a penalty-kick advantage.


Merhebs: Eastern Soccer's 'Sister Act'



Above: Tamar (left) and Jo-Ann Merheb


By Jonathan Mizger '13

Bethel natives are passionate about the sport and their teammates

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Imagine what it would feel like to have a younger or older brother or sister play side by side with you on a sports team.  Just you and someone you have known throughout your life working together on and off the field. Now imagine it as if it was real.

Two sisters on the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team live this way; they are Jo-Ann and Tamar Merheb.

Bethel natives Jo-Ann, a senior, and Tamar, a sophomore, have been playing soccer since they were kids. Prior to playing at Eastern, Jo-Ann and Tamar performed on the same team at Bethel High School. "I know [Tamar] so well," said Jo-Ann. "I've been playing with her ever since we were little and I just understand how she is going to play." Jo-Ann and Tamar have their unique pre-game ritual of a handshake they do prior to getting on the field.

Making it even more special is that as midfielders, they have been not only teammates at Eastern, but also linemates.

The sister bonding by the Merhebs has translated to a stronger sense of unity throughout the women's soccer team. "I love how we're so close" said Jo-Ann. "[The team] just been like a family, I hang out with them all the time, they're my best friends.".

"We are like best friends,"said Tamar. "Our coach always says that we're all like sisters."

The sisters were born a little over two years apart . JoAnn will turn 22 in March  and Tamar will turn 20 in April. Both were four-year members of their high school soccer team and served as team captains in their respective senior seasons. Jo-Ann was a freshman at Eastern in 2008 and helped lead the Warriors to the Little East Conference championship as a sophomore. She was joined by Tamar in the fall of 2010 and both were instrumental when the team won last year's LEC regular-season title and remained unbeaten through two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

At Eastern, they have played two seasons together, but the team's next loss spells the end of their relationship as college teammates. Postseason play starts Friday in the Little East Conference semifinal game against Western Connecticut State University beginning at 6 p.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. If Eastern wins, it will move on to Sunday's championship game, where it will have an opportunity to exend the season into next week's NCAA tournament. A loss either Friday or Sunday ends the season and with it, Jo'Ann's four-year career.

The sister duo's love of the game has caught the attention of their teammates and from head coach Chris D'Ambrosio.  "They both bring a passion of the game of soccer," said D'Ambrosio. "They live, eat, and breath soccer. They're living it every day."

Both Jo-Ann and Tamar are competitive from their family culture and atmosphere, and both stated how they were inspired to play soccer from their father.

 "Our dad (Bahij), definitely our dad", said Jo-Ann, confirming the person who was the soccer inspiration for her and her sister. "He's played soccer, so he got us into it. He always watches it too, so we end up watching it" said Tamar. Younger brother Joey is also a soccer-playing member of the family.

Jo-Ann and Tamar have an appreciation for the little things in life and are happy to perform well and are thankful for many things throughout their soccer careers. "I'm most thankful for playing for Coach D'Ambrosio," said Jo-Ann. "[He] is one of the greatest coaches I ever had in my life."

The sisters enjoy being able to play on Eastern women's soccer team that is fun to be around and enjoy the success they are having this year. The women's soccer team finished the regular season with a record of ten wins, eight losses, and a Little East Conference record of six victories and one defeat.

M-Soccer: Warriors Return to LEC Final

They surge past UMD, will host Keene State in title match Saturday


Above: Eastern celebrates after Carl Stensland scored the first goal of the match 12 minutes into action.

stensland jersey 72_2568.jpg

Carl Stensland (left) is interviewed by internet broadcaster Nick Magoulas after the win.WATCH (1:32)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  Playing up front for the first time, first-year junior Carl Stensland (Storrs) scored on both of his shots of the game in the first 29 minutes and sophomore midfielder Zach Kice (Denver, CO) collected three assists as top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University shut out fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 4-0, Wednesday  afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field to move into the championship match of the Little East Conference men's soccer tournament for the third time in five years.

Ranked ninth in this week's New England soccer rankings, Eastern (13-5-1) will host the tournament final Saturday at 1 p.m. at Nevers Field. The Warriors, who are 2-0 in championship game appearances - both being played on their home fields in 2007 and 2009 - will face No. 2 seed Keene State College, which eliminated No. 3 seed Rhode Island College, 3-2 in overtime, Wednesday night at Keene, NH..

decasanovademo72dpi_7765.jpgLooking for additional composure up front, fifth-year  head coach Greg DeVito shifted Stensland to the front line in practice this week and the move paid immediate dividends.  A first-year Division I transfer, Stensland scored on his only two shots of the match. He finished off a scramble in front of the net to make it  1-0 in the12th minute,  and his fourth goal of the year with 16 minutes left in the first half on a line drive shot from the middle of the box gave the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead.

At left: Midfielders Jon DeCasanova (foreground) and Nicholas Demo each contributed an assist in Wednesday's victory. (Cristina Danielson photo) 

The game was a re-match of the 2009 LEC title game, won 1-0 by Eastern at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex and followed a 1-0 loss at the hands of UMass Dartmouth (11-7-1) three days ago on the final day of the regular season. Both the loss and the goal allowed in Saturday's match were the only ones given up by Eastern in seven regular-season conference matches.

Sophomore forward Mitch Power (Douglas, MA), who recorded a hat trick five weeks ago at Nevers Field, added the final two goals against UMass, both coming on  crosses from Kice and were the result of low shots just inside the post. Power has scored all  six of his goals this year at Nevers Field.

With three assists in the match, Kice shares the team lead with junior forward Cory Tobler (Portland), with six.

Senior keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ)  backstopped the Warriors to their 12th shutout, extending the program season record in that department. The shutout was the eighth full one for Appel, whose only difficult save came in the second half when he leaped to tip a UMass drive off the crossbar.

A young team dominated by freshmen and sophomore, UMass had posted shutouts in its last two and in three of its last five outings. Several key players were missing from the Corsair lineup due to injury following Saturday's physically-played win over Eastern in a rainstorm Saturday at North Dartmouth, MA.

 Eastern shut out Keene State at Nevers Field by a 3-0 score Oct. 8. In the 2007 tournament title game, Eastern defeated Keene State on penalty kicks at Nevers Field  to win its first-ever conference tournament title. 

Eastern and Keene have combined to win four of the last five titles, each winning twice. Keene won last year's championship, 1-0, over Rhode Island - its sixth conference crown - and blanked Plymouth State, 3-0, in 2006.   Eastern was the No. 1 seed when it defeated No. 2 seed Keene State in 2007 and was the No. 2 seed when it defeated No. 4 seed UMass Dartmouth in 2009. Keene was the top seed when it downed No. 3 seed Rhode Island College a year ago.








W-Volleyball: Warriors Five-Set Winners

No. 5  Eastern moves on to semifinals after upending No. 4 Western


Tournament Central

DANBURY, Conn. -  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team did what it has done best the last few weeks: erase a 2-1 deficit and win in five sets.

At right: The Warriors celebrate their five-set LEC first-round victory Tuesday night.

Returning to the Little East Conference playoffs Tuesday night after a year's absence, fifth-seeded Eastern (20-9) bounced back after losing two of the first three sets to eliminate fourth-seeded Western Connecticut State University (24-9) in five at the O'Neill Center and advance to the Final Four this weekend at Plymouth, NH. Game scores were 31-29, 17-25, 14-25, 25-21 and 15-9.

The Warriors face top-seeded host Plymouth State University in the first semifinal Saturday at Foley Gymnasium at 2 p.m., and second-seeded and two-time defending champion Massachusetts Boston meets third-seeded Keene State College at 4.  Keene advanced past sixth-seeded Rhode Island College in four sets Tuesday night. The tournament final is scheduled for noon Sunday at Plymouth. During the regular season, Eastern was swept by the three other remaining teams.

Western came into Tuesday night's match hot, riding a five-match winning streak and having won eight of its last ten. Eastern, however, came in with even more momentum and also looking to avenge a three-set loss at Western Oct. 4 in a match decided by 11 total points. Since losing that tight three-set match, the Warriors had won 11 of their last 14 (and three of their final LEC contests) entering the tournament. Of its last three victories, two had come in five sets after the Warriors had dropped two of the first three games. The first had come over UMass Dartmouth in a home match which lifted Eastern into the playoffs, and the second came a night later on the road at Wesleyan University - a locale which has always created problems for Eastern.

Against Western, 6-foot-2 inch junior Katie Wilson (Pittsburg, CA) had 17 kills, six blocks and three service aces and was 4-for-4 in kills with two blocks and an ace in the deciding set.

As a team, Eastern collected 13 blocks and did not commit a reception error until late in the second set.

Senior outside hitter/setter Samantha Slonski (Griswold) and senior middle hitter Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton) followed Wilson with 16 and ten kills each, with Slonski adding ten digs and 19 assists.

Defensively, sophomore Erynn Miller (Stratford) and senior libero Taylor Abelli (Cheshire) combined for 41 digs, Miller leading all players with 22. Abelli commited only one reception error on 33 attempts and Miller only two on 31.Senior setter Gianna Trombino (East Moriches, NY) came off the bench for 23 assists and two service aces.

Eastern set the tempo with a spirited 31-29 victory in the opener - Ibsen and junior Shannon Burke (Manchester) providing a late spark with a block solo each -- but faced the end of their season after losing the second and third sets. Eastern forced the hosts to play catch-up throughout the fourth set and the Colonials finally did at 19-all. But two kills by Slonski and one by Ibsen and two Western attack errors accounted for perhaps the five biggest points of the season as Eastern pulled away to force an elimination game.

Having reached the decisive fifth set, the Warriors won for the fifth time in six tries this the fifth set. A kill by Wilson gave the Warriors the lead for good at 8-7, and after the teams traded benches, Western was guilty of an attack error, and Wilson and first-year sophomore Nicki Gasch (New Milford) blocked Western's top offensive player, Paxton Thornton, as the Warriors surged to a 10-7. Wilson then all but decided things with consecutive kills and a service ace as Eastern ran off the final four points to seal the victory.

One of the top offensive players in the conference, the six-foot Thornton of Western led all players with 28 kills, 5-foot-5 inch freshman Nina Wojtkiewicz adding 17. Freshman setter Jennifer Hogan set for 52 assists and Kelley Collins had 21 digs and four service aces.

The victory ended a four-match losing streak for Eastern at the hands of Western, which had eliminated the Warriors in straight sets when the teams had met in the first round of the LEC tournament two years ago on the same floor.

In 2007, Eastern defeated Western in three sets in the LEC tournament championship match at Keene, NH. Also as the No. 5 seed that year, the Warriors won three road decisions to capture their seventh and most recent title. Before sweeping Western in the championship match that season, Eastern had eliminated fourth-seeded Rhode Island College and top-seeded Keene State on their home floors -- both in five sets..


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