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M-Lax: Cardinals Vanquish Warriors

Eastern is shut out for first 39 minutes in 9-3 setback to Wesleyan

brown 727249.jpgMIDDLETOWN, Conn.  The Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team entered Wednesday's intra-regional match with Wesleyan University averaging over 11 goals a match. That average took a beating after the Cardinals shut the Warriors out for the first 39 minutes and came away with a 9-3 victory.

At left: Chris Brown

Eastern (5-5) lost for the fourth time in its last five road matches after Wesleyan's (8-2) five-goal second quarter proved to be the difference in the Cardinals' third straight victory over Eastern in this series.

For their part, the Warriors defense gave up more than two goals in a quarter only once against the Cardinals, but couldn't get untracked after the hosts' five-goal second quarter gave them a 6-0 advantage at the break.

Wesleyan won for the fifth time in as many contests at home this season and returned to the win column after a five-match win streak went by the boards in an 11-5 loss at Colby College Saturday.

The Cardinals took the lead for good on the first point of the game by senior DJ Bernatavitz as he converted a shot from the right side off a pass from senior Max Landow into the only goal of the first quarter with 9:16 to go.  Bernatavitz added three points in the second quarter as Wesleyan tacked on five goals to hold a 6-0 lead at halftime.  Bernatavitz fed sophomore Aidan Daniell for his first of two goals in the stanza at the 12:54 mark.  Then long-pole junior Brendan Hanley scored from long range eight seconds later to make it 3-0.  Landow took a pass from Bernatavitz on a fast break and scored from in front to make it 4-0 at the 8:41 mark.  The next two Cardinal goals both came during a man-up situation with Daniell and Bernatavitz doing the honors.  Daniell leads Wesleyan in scoring on the year with 22 points (13-9-22).

Wesleyan was awarded the first seven extra-man tries in the match - all six in the first half and the first of the second - and capitalized on three of those opportunites. Eastern couldn't take advantage of six man-up opportunies, including a one-minute, two-man advantage in the second quarter when it trailed by five.

The teams scored evenly over the final two periods with each netting a pair in the third quarter and one in the final frame.  Eastern sophomore midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) had a goal and an assist for the Warriors,  but potted only one of a team-high 11 chances.

Facing four different opponents, Eastern junior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won eight of 16 attempts and matched sophomore defenseman Chris Brown (Cohasset, MA) with seven ground balls.

Team scoring leader Michael Sullinger (Brookfield) ended Eastern's scoring drought with 6:05 left in the third period after Wesleyan had scored the first seven goals.

Eastern also got a goal from sophomore long-pole Mike Fanning (Norwell, MA). Wesleyan's final three goals came from senior John Froats, sophomore Graham Macnab and sophomore Remy Lieberman.

Eastern  senior Jamie Tommins (Fairfield) followed up Saturday's 16-save performance in a home win over Keene State with 15 more Wednesday.

The match was the first for Eastern at Wesleyan since 2009, when the Cardinals emerged from a second-round NCAA tournament game with a slim 8-4 decision.

Eastern hosts Plymouth State University Saturday at 4 p.m. in a Little East Conference match. 

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