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May 2012 Archives

M-Lacrosse: Devine Named All-America

Midfielder is program's first sophomore to attain USILA honors


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) has become the first sophomore in Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse history to be named to the USILA Division III All-America team when he was named as an honorable mention choice.

The only selection from the Little East Conference among the 136 All-America picks, the 6-foot-2 inch, 200-pound Devine was among 88 honorable mention selections. He becomes the 13th Eastern All-America in the last 14 years, fifth in the last four years. Of the previous 12, eight were seniors and four were juniors. Two of the Eastern All-Americas are second-team picks and 11 honorable mention selections.

Devine's previous awards this year include NEILA All-New England second-team honors and LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year and first-team all-conference accolades. He shared the conference lead with 46 goals this season, was fourth with 58 points, first with 145 shots and tied for first with eight extra-man goals. In the LEC tournament win over Keene State, Devine had three goals and one assist.

Devine had at least one goal in all 18 matches for the 12-6 Warriors, who won their seventh LEC tournament title in 12 years and qualified for their tenth post-season tournament in the last 14 years with a berth in their seventh NCAA tournament.

Devine scored 11 goals on 18 shots and totaled 14 points in the team's first two matches of the season, with a career-high six goals coming in the second match against Stevens Tech, ranked No. 9 nationally in the most recent USILA Division III poll.



Track: Four Achieve All-NE Honors

Hewett, Hultzman are three-timers; Lochard, Gingras record-breakers

hewettOpen72dpi_2965.jpgAt left: Fredrick Hewett (Photo by Frank Poulin)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University outdoor track and field sophomores Fredrick Hewett (New London) and Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) each earned All-New England honors three times this month during New England championship competition.

Hewett, a first-year competitor, placed sixth at 400 meters at the New England Open Championships and was third at 400 meters and fourth at 200 meters at the New England Division III Championships. Hultzman was sixth in the high jump at the New England Open and at the New England Division III Championships was second in the high jump and eighth in the heptathlon.

Both New England meets were hosted by MIT at the Steinbrenner Track on the Cambridge, MA campus.

Hewett and Hultzman were among four Eastern athletes who gained All-New England honors at the Division III meet. Senior Amanda Quinones (Trumbull) ran to an eighth-place finish at 10,000 meters and junior Cora Gingras (East Hampton) totaled a program-record 3,859 points in a sixth-place finish in the heptathlon.

hultzmanHFatSC04211272dpi_8192.jpgIn addition to those who achieved All-New England status,  freshman Kevin Lochard (Stamford) broke the 30-year-old program record with a time 1:54.96 at 800 meters en route to an 18th-place finish at the Division III Championships.

At left: Lauren Hultzman (Photo by Frank Poulin)

At the Division III meet, Hewett ran the fourth-fastest 200 (22.25) in program history and at the Open, his time of 48.94 was just 65 hundreths of a second off the program record. In last month's Little East Conference/New England Alliance Championships. Hewett was second in the LEC and third in the NEA at both 200 and 400 meters.  Indoors, Hewett competed at 200 and 400 meters in the New England Division III, Open and ECAC Division III Championships, earning a tenth-place finish at 400 meters in the Division III meet.

At 400 meters in the Open, Hewett was the only Division III athlete to reach the finals. He was second in his heat (fifth overall) behind Dennis Stephenson of Division II American International College with a time of 49. 24. Hewett's third-place finish at 400 meters in the Division III meet was the highest by an Eastern male or female since program record-holder and indoor All-America David Nicholson captured the event in 2006.

Hewett is in his first collegiate season after playing football as a post-graduate at Southern Tech Academy in Charlotte, NC in the fall of 2009.

gingras_72_4534.jpgThis year's LEC and NEA indoor and outdoor high jump champion, Hultzman  was one of seven individuals to record a jump of 5-3 in the Open behind the top three finishers. Hultzman, who shared ninth place in the Open as a freshman with a then-record mark of 5-3, was the second Division III finisher in the Open. She was fourth in the Division III meet and eighth in the Open this past winter indoors, (with an indoor record jump of 5-3 in the latter meet).

At left: Cora Gingras 

Hultzman's finish in the Division III and Open meets in the high jump were the highest ever by an Eastern female. The only previous female to gain All-New England recognition in the Division III meet was Kim Jemmott, when she took third place 16 years ago.

In the Division III heptathlon, Gingras broke Hultzman's program record of 3,709 points, which she had accumulated  in mid-April at Holy Cross. Gingras bettered her own previous total by 211 points, which she had recorded at Holy Cross.  In a field of 15 in the Division III meet, she was third in the high jump and at 800 meters, fifth in the long jump, sixth in the 100 hurdles, ninth in the javelin and at 200 meters and 13th in the shot put. Gingras was 13th at last year's Division III meet in the heptathlon, with 3,477 points.

quinones_72_4319.jpgHultzman totaled 3,639 points in the heptathlon on the way to All-New England honors in that event. She won the javelin and high jump, shared sixth place in the long jump, was seventh in the shot, 13th in the hurdles and 14th at 200 and 800 meters.

Quinones gained All-New England honors at 10,000 meters for the first time in her career, clocking a personal best time of 38:47.93 at the Division III meet. The 2010 LEC/NEA 10,000 meter champion as a sophomore, Quinones was 12th in the Open and 14th in the Division III meet as a junior, setting her previous PR of 39:08.56 last year at the Division III meet.

At right: Amanda Quinones

Also competing in the Division III meet for the men were freshmen D'Vonte Chambers (West Haven), Andrew Reynolds (Hartford), Luisantonio Rosado (Ponce, PR) and Dylan Kruppa (Torrington). Chambers was 26th at 200 meters and competed in the preliminaries of the 100 meters; Reynolds and Rosado also competed in the preliminaries of the 110 hurdles; and the 4x100 relay of Hewett, Chambers, Kruppa and Rosado combined to claim 12th place.

Hewett accumulated all 11 of the team's points with his performances at 200 and 400 meters.

For the men in the Open, Hewett competed in the preliminaries of the 200 in addition to capturing sixth in the 400. The 4x100 relay was 11th and the 4x400 relay of Lochard, Rosado, Kruppa and Hewett were 18th.

In the ECAC Championships at Troy, NY, Hewett was 15th at 200 meters and 21st at 400 meters and the 4x100 relay of Hewett, Chambers, Rosado and Reynolds placed 23rd.

Also competing for the women at the Division III Championships were junior Christine Charpentier (Monroe) and  sophomores  Akaya McElveen (New Haven), Tacia Bryant (Guilford) and Amy Huhn (Hebron).  Gingras missed All-New England recognition by one place by finishing ninth in both the high jump and triple jump.  In the high jump, Gingras was one of 14 athletes to share sixth place with a jump of 5-0 1/4, but was officially given a ninth-place finish, based on jumps. Huhn shared 16th place in the pole vault while the 4x100 relay of Bryant, Charpentier, McElveen and Huhn ran to a 17th-place finish.

At the Open, Gingras was ninth again in the high jump. Huhn did not clear a height in the pole vault, the 4x400 relay of McElveen, Bryant, Charpentier and Gingras was last in a 17-team field and the 4x100 relay was disqualified.

At the ECAC Championships, Hultzman shared 12th place in the high jump and Huhn tied for 17th in the pole vault.

Joining Lochard as a record-breaker for the men during the outdoor season was junior Nick Miller (Norwich), who was clocked in 9:23.44 at 3000 meters April 7 at Wesleyan. For the women, in addition to the heptathlon, Gingras also broke the triple jump record (35-4) at the Eastern Invitational April 13, Hultzman set a new standard in the high jump (5-5) at the Eastern Invite, Huhn equaled Erika Barber's pole vault record of 10-8 at Westfield State March 24, and Quinones broke the mark with a time of 4:57.91 at 1500 meters at Wesleyan April 7.





Baseball: Regional Opening Wednesday


baseball field wide angle WEB.jpg

landers_wheatonhal72dpi.jpgFor the sixth time in 15 years, the Eastern Baseball Stadium will host an NCAA Division III regional baseball tournament when the Mansfield, Conn. Regional Tournament kicks off with four games Wednesday. Top-seeded Wheaton College, MA headlines the field and will face No. 8 seed Bridgewater State University at 1:15 p.m. in the second of four games on the first day of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament which runs through either Saturday or Sunday.  Six New England conferences are represented in the regional: the Commonwealth Coast Conference (Western New England University), New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (Wheaton), Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (Bridgewater State), Great Northeast Athletic Conference (Saint Joseph's College of Maine), Little East Conference (University of Southern Maine and Keene State College) and New England Small College Athletic Conference (Bowdoin College and Trinity College).Six of the eight qualified automatically as their respective conference tournament champions, with Keene State and Bowdoin gaining at-large  selections to the 56-team field. The six teams have combined for 65 years of tournament experience and a 150-133 tournament record heading into 2012, led by Southern Maine (19th appearance), Bridgewater State (14th) and Wheaton (11th). All eight have made at least one NCAA tournament appearance and two (Southern Maine in 1991 and 1997) and Trinity (2008) have claimed national titles. In previous national tournaments, Wheaton has reached the national championship round and Bridgewater has taken home one third-place finish.The last team in this field to win at Mansfield was Trinity in 2009, while Bridgewater was second here in 2003 and 2004. Defending national champion Marietta College is the No. 1 seed in a regional which it will host in Marietta, OH. This week's eight regional winners  throoughout the country advance to the national tournament May 25-29 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, WI.

Softball: Two are All-America Selections

Rathbun becomes first four-time pick; Cooper is first 3B pick in 14 years

rathbun head 72dpi_2758.jpg

Rathbun (top), and Cooper

SALEM, Va. -- Eastern Connecticut State University senior right-handed pitcher/designated player Molly Rathbun (Hebron) and junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) have been named to the  National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Division III All-America team.

Rathbun becomes the first member of the program to earn the honor each season of a four-year career while Cooper becomes the program's first third baseman to receive the honor since Michelle Cunningham was named to the second team in 1998.

cooper head 72_2737.jpgRathbun was named to the first team for the third straight year after gaining second-team accolades as a freshman. Cooper was honored for the first time in her career, earning a spot as the only third baseman on the second team. Rathbun was named as one of three At-Large picks to the first time. She was named at that position as a freshman before being voted as a pitcher as a sophomore and junior.

The first and second teams were comprised of 15 players each with the third team including 16 players. Only one program in New England had more than Eastern's two selections. No institution at any level in New England has had more than the Warriors' 21 first-team selections.
Last week, Rathbun was named to the All-New England Region first team for the fourth straight season while Cooper was selccted all-region for the second team, the first time to the first team.

Rathbun completed a record-shattering career this spring by winning a program-record 33 games against three losses with a program-record 339 strikeouts and just 39 walks and a 0.73 ERA in 212 1/3 innings. She won 29 straight decisions heading into NCAA regional play and ended up beating every team that she had a decision against at least once. In addition to strikeouts, innings and wins, Rathbun also set season marks this year for appearances (42) and starts (29). She threw two no-hitters and also a perfect game against regional champion Tufts University.

Cooper smashed the program record with a 33-game hitting streak, set season marks with 123 total bases, tied the 26-year-old mark with 69 hits, tied the season record with a .783 slugging average and led all players with a .439 batting average. which equals the fifth highest in a season in program history. She was named MVP of the LEC tournament with nine hits and seven assists in the field without an error.

The past season, Eastern  won a program-record 44 games in 47 contests and was ranked No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in New England. Eastern reached the championship round of the regional tournament for the third straight season, losing for the first time after advancing to the national tournament in 2010 and 2011.

Three previous Eastern players have earned All-America selection three times:  right-handed pitcher  Christia Mohan (1987, 89-90), outfielder Leanne Shoop (1989-90 and '92) and utility player Lynn Rocheleau (1985, 88-89). Rathbun becomes the first three-time first-team selection, with Mohan and Shoop earning spots on the first team twice.

Eastern has had a total of 40 All-America selections (since 1982) in its history. The last time it had as many as two picks was 20 years ago, when second baseman Carrie Loring and Shoop were second-team picks.


Softball: Four Selected All-NE Region

Rathbun, Alicea are picked for fourth time; Cooper, Bondy also named

alicea head 72dpi_2774.jpg

From top: Alicea, Bondy, Cooper, Rathbun

STARKVILLE, Miss. - It is fitting that the most successful season in Eastern Connecticut State University history that did not end in a national championship resulted in the selection of four players to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Division III All-New England Region team.

Senior rightfielder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford), senior pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron), junior  third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and sophomore catcher Megan Bondy (Mystic) all represented the Warriors, who won a program-record 44 games in 47 contests and were ranked No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in New England. Eastern reached the bondy head 72_2759.jpgchampionship round of the regional tournament for the third straight season, losing for the first time after advancing to the national tournament in 2010 and 2011.

Alicea and Rathbun were selected to the all-region team for the fourth straight season, with Rathbun earning first-team accolades each time.  Alicea repeated as a first-team pick from a year ago. Cooper joined Alicea and Rathbun on the first team, while Bondy was a third-team selection. Rathbun is a right-handed pitcher and DP who was named at pitcher. Alicea is a rightfielder who was named at the at-large position. Cooper is a third baseman who was tabbed at that spot. Bondy is a catcher, but all 16 third-team picks were designated as "at-large".

cooper head 72_2737.jpgAll 15 first-team picks are eligible for All-America honors, with that team being announced at this weekend's NCAA Division III tournament at Salem, VA. Rathbun is a two-time first-team All-America pick at pitcher after being named second-team All-America at the at-large position as a freshman.

Rathbun completed a record-shattering career this spring by winning a program-record 33 games against three losses with a program-record 339 strikeouts and just 39 walks and a 0.73 ERA in 212 1/3 innings. She won 29 straight decisions heading into NCAA regional play and ended up beating every team that she had a decision against at least once. In addition to strikeouts, innings and wins, Rathbun also set season marks this year for appearances (42) and starts (29). She threw two no-hitters and also a perfect game against regional champion Tufts University.

rathbun head 72dpi_2758.jpgAlicea set the program career record for hits this year with 206. She batted .355 with 44 runs scored, 76 total bases and 54 hits. She hit safely in 12 straight games at one point and in all but eight through the Little East Conference tournament. Her career batting average of .391 is the best all-time among players with at least 200 at-bats and is .001 percentage points higher than that of Rathbun.

Cooper smashed the program record with a 33-game hitting streak, set season marks with 123 total bases, tied the 26-year-old mark with 69 hits, tied the season record with a .783 slugging average and led all players with a .439 batting average. which equals the fifth highest in a season in program history. She was named MVP of the LEC tournament with nine hits and seven assists in the field without an error.

Bondy started 38 games behind the plate, did not have a passed ball, and set a program record with 386 putouts and posted a .993 fielding average. She threw out 39.1 percent of 23 runners attempting to steal. In her career, Bondy has a .995 fielding percentage on 633 chances.

Eastern's total of four all-region players is its second-highest in the last 19 years and its total of three first-teamers is its highest since 1993. Five players were named to the all-region team last year while the 1993 team featured four first-team picks among its program-record six selections.


Softball: Tufts Takes Jumbo Victory, 5-0

Following extra-inning win over USCGA, Warriors are shut out


MANSFIELD, Conn. --  The Eastern Connecticut State University softball team emerged with a thrilling 5-4 eight-inning victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in an NCAA tournament game Sunday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.

At right: Stephanie Johnson (David Santerre photo)

Unfortunately for top-seeded Eastern (44-3), it only prolonged its season for a few more hours, when it was eliminated in the first game of the championship round by No. 2 seed Tufts University (36-9), 5-0, which unseated the two-time regional champions with a perfect 4-0 tournament record and will represent New England in the NCAA Division III national tournament which gets underway Friday at Salem, VA.

Eastern would have needed two wins over  Tufts - the winner-take-all tilt scheduled for Monday afternoon - to advance to the national tournament for a third straight time for the first time in 20 years.

After being shut out by Coast Guard, 5-0, in a second-round game Friday, the Warriors won three elimination games in two days before losing to Tufts for the second time in three games this year. 

Freshman pitcher Allyson Fournier of Tufts, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, spun a two-hit shutout Sunday for the Jumbos, fanning eight and walking only one in her first appearance this season against Eastern.

Tufts scored twice against Eastern All-America Molly Rathbun (Hebron) in the third and added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth against Rathbun and junior relievers Christine Akcer (Milford) and Kassondra Silva (Hamden).

With Fournier cruising to her 22nd win against a single loss and Tufts comfortably ahead by the middle innings, there was little drama as Tufts won its eighth straight game, fourth without a loss in the double elimination tournament.

The suspense was reserved for the first game of the day, when the Warriors and Coast Guard exchanged home runs that sent the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, the Warriors pushed across what proved to be the winning run on infield singles by juniors Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and Stephanie Johnson (Plantsville) and an infield error. Cooper led off the inning and was sacrificed to second sophomore cleanup hitter Megan Godwin (Manchester). With two out, Johnson outran a ground ball to second base, and when the throw was misplayed, Cooper  came all the way around to score.

Rathbun's monstrous grand slam home run into the trees beyond the left field fence - the 28th of her career -- on the first pitch that she saw in the fifth had vaulted the Warriors into a 4-1 lead, but Coast Guard (28-19) came right back in the sixth to tie the game on No. 5 hitter Kaitlin Ward's three-run blast off  Rathbun.

If not for a remarkable season-saving catch in the bottom of the seventh by sophomore centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford), Eastern's run through the losers' bracket would have ended in the semifinals.  With two out and a runner on first and the game tied at 4-4, Coast Guard cleanup hitter Holli Bastinck launched a high fly ball in the gap between Brett and rightfielder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford). With the runner off at the crack of the bat, Brett made a long run to her left and hauled in the drive at the base of the fence, avoiding  a collision with Alicea in the process.

Eastern could not capitalize on a scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh against All-America pitcher  Hayley Feindel (21-10) after No. 9 hitter Kelly Paterson (Southington) had reached on a one-out double. Feindel, who had tamed Eastern with a ten-strikeout, two-hit gem Friday, got a pair of outfield fly outs to end the threat.

Cooper had one of the two hits against Fournier - a leadoff single in the seventh - and tied the 26-year-old Eastern season record for hits (69), first established by first-team All-America Trish Wodatch in the 1986 national championship season. She finished the season with a program-record 122 total bases and program-tying 11 home runs and her.782 slugging percentage was .001 shy of the season mark.

Rathbun, Brett, Johnson and Paterson represented Eastern on the all-tournament team. Rathbun pitched all but 3 2/3 innings in six games, winning four and losing two and striking out 53 with a 2.31 ERA in 36 1/3 innings and hitting .333 (7-for-21) with 11 total bases and six RBI.  She won a program record 33 games this year and concludes her four-year career with 103 wins and 1, 135 strikeouts, both program records.

Paterson led Eastern in the tournament with a .467 average (7-for-15) and handled 21 chances at first base without an error. Johnson batted .375 (6-for-16). Brett batted only .167 but, in addition to her game-saving catch, had a two-run double in the first inning of Saturday's 6-0 win over Ithaca College.

Fournier pithed all 28 innings for Tufts without allowing an earned run. She gave up ten hits while striking out 43 and walking only.


Mattie Brett, OF, Eastern Connecticut
Francesca Busa, SS, Ithaca
Lena Cantone, 1B, Tufts
Jo Clair, C, Tufts
Hayley Feindel, P, Coast Guard
Sydney Folk, 1B, Ithaca
Allyson Fournier, P, Tufts*
Sara Hedtler, OF, Tufts
Stephanie Johnson, OF, Eastern Connecticut
Nina Korn, 1B, Rochester
Kelly Paterson, 1B, Eastern Connecticut
Molly Rathbun, P/DP, Eastern Connecticut
Jessica Richardson, C, Coast Guard

*Most Outstanding Player


NCAA Softball: It's Great to be Alive!

After Friday loss, Warriors respond with two elimination victorieshuddle72dpi_2495.jpg

Photos by Marissa Malouf


At left: Molly Rathbun

WATCH: Post-game interviews with head coach Diana Pepin and pitcher Molly Rathbun.

MANSFIELD, Conn. -  Under normal circumstances, it would have been a day to celebrate a number of personal season and career achievements Saturday  for the Eastern Connecticut State University softball program.

Instead, it was a day to celebrate two elimination game victories that kept the Warriors alive in the NCAA Division III Mansfield, Conn. Regional Tournament at the Eastern Softball Field.

After losing its first game in nearly two months Friday in a winners' bracket game of the tournament to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy,  Eastern (43-2) outslugged and outpitched the University of Rochester (6-1) and Ithaca College (6-0) to move into the losers' bracket final and a return engagement against Coast Guard (28-18) Sunday at noon.

In order to qualify for the national tournament in three consecutive seasons for the first time in 20 years, the second-seeded Warriors must beat Coast Guard, then down No. 2 seed Tufts (39-5), the tourney's lone unbeaten twice. The first game of the championship round will be played Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and a second, winner-take-all showdown Monday at noon.

For Eastern to win the tournament - for a crack at a sixth national championship --  it would need to win a total of six games in the tournament. For Tufts to advance to next week's national tournament at Salem, VA, the Jumbos would need four. Tufts advanced to the championship round with a 3-0 victory over Coast Guard in a winners' bracket game Saturday afternoon.

While the day was filled with milestones - 11th-year head coach Diana Pepin taking over as the program's all-time winningest coach with 285 wins, senior All-America pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron) breaking her own season records with her 31st win and 306th strikeout, and junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) tying season mark of 11 home runs - they took a backseat to the team's ability to bounce back from its first loss since March 19 and remain as one of three remaining teams in the original tournament field of eight.

Against  third-seeded Rochester and fourth-seeded Ithaca, the Warriors collected 20 hits and commited only two errors. For her part, Rathbun won her 101st and 102nd career games by allowing only nine hits in 14 innings, fanning 27 and walking three. She stopped Rochester (29-15) on three hits with 15 strikeouts in the morning, then turned back Ithaca with a six-hitter and 12 strikeouts - her 17th game this year with at least ten punchouts - at night.

Eastern erased a 1-0 first-inning deficit against the Yellowjackets with four runs in the fourth on four hits and an error. Senior Priscilla Alicea (Stratford), Rathbun, sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester) and sophomore Stephanie Johnson (Southington) all singled in the inning, and Godwin, sophomore Mattie Brett  (Waterford), Johnson and pinch hitter Sam Rossetti (Shelton) all drove in runs. Godwin contributed two hits and two RBI in the win.

Against Ithaca, Rathbun tossed her 15th shutout of the season and Cooper had two hits and two RBI, tying the season record for home runs with a solo blast leading off the third that made it 3-0. It marked the 24th career home run for Cooper, who trails only Rathbun (27) in that category.

Brett's two-run, two-out double gave the Warriors a quick lead in the top of the first, and after Cooper homered in the third, the Warriors made it 5-0 by scoring two runs in the fourth after there were two out and none on on three hits and a walk.. No. 9 hitter Kelly Paterson (Southington) ignited the rally with a single, and Alicea followed with a walk, and both eventually scored (Courtney Weber (Groton), running for Paterson, scored the run) on RBI singles by Rathbun and Cooper.

Led by Brett (three RBI), eight different players drove in runs on the day, with Paterson, Johnson, Cooper and Rathbun all chipping in three hits each.


Baseball: Warriors Bounced from LEC

They sustain two one-run losses and exit tournament in three games


MANSFIELD, Conn. -  Ranked ninth in the NCAA Division III New England  ratings this week, the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team  needed to win the Little East Conference tournament to be guaranteed a spot in its 33rd NCAA tournament since 1976.

Following an opening win over third-seeded and defending champion Rhode Island College Wednesday, however, Eastern (29-13) was bounced from the tournament after sustaining consecutive one-run losses Friday to second-seeded Keene State College, 4-3 in 12 innings, and sixth-seeded Plymouth State University, 1-0.

Eastern awaits a possible NCAA tournament bid as an at-large selection when the tournament field is announced Monday.

The winningest program in LEC history with seven tournament championships, Eastern was idle Thursday due to rain, but had to come back immediately after its  three hour and 17 minute extra-inning loss to Keene Friday morning. Plymouth, which had won only six games in 15 years of LEC tournament play, had opened the tournament Wednesday by upsetting top-seeded host University of Southern Maine before losing to Rhode Island, 10-5, Thursday.

Keene State 4 , Eastern 3  (12)

Sophomore Nick Vita stroked a two-out single up the middle to deliver senior Kyle Morrill with the winning run as the Owls defeated the Warriors in LEC tournament play for the fifth time in 14 meetings.

Morrill led off the 12th with a single, and moved to second on a ground out.  After senior Peter Burgio  received an intentional walk, Eastern  senior Jim Dimon (Seymour) got the second out on a fly ball, but Vita went back up the middle to bring Morrill around to score.

Winning pitcher Tim Quagliaroli got the first two batters in the bottom of the 12th inning before surrendering a single to junior Drew Accomando (Monroe) . Sophomore Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) reached on an infield error, but Quagliaroli was able to get the final out on a popout to Vita.

Eastern  forced  extra innings with two runs in the eighth inning against KSC senior starter Tim Thiesing and Quagliaroli.  Thiesing gave up a one-out single to O'Connell and a walk to junior Joe Balowski (Berlin) to bring Quagliaroli into the game.  A fly out moved O'Connell to third, and he scored when Quagliaroli threw a wild pitch.  Sophomore Gavin Lavallee (New Milford), who came on to pinch run for Balowski, scored on sophomore T.J. Larivee's (Salem, MA)  single to left-center field.

Plymouth State 1 , Eastern 0

Senior righty Joe Hudson, making his first start of the season after 14 relief appearances, spun a brilliant game allowing only five singles, one walk and two hit batsman. as the Panthers defeated Eastern for only the fifth time in 35 LEC regular-season and tournament games and avenged two regular-season losses to the Warriors this season.

The Warriors got a runner to third base only one time, that coming in the sixth inning when Accomando reached third on a wild pitch.

The Panthers scored the only run of the game in the second inning as senior Ryan McIntosh led off with a double to left field.  McIntosh moved to third on a one-out wild pitch by losing hurler Andrew Merritt (Norwalk).  After a walk to junior Rew Wilson, junior David Tammaro beat out a fielder's choice to drive in McIntosh.

Plymouth  had a potential second run cut down at the plate in the fourth inning senior Luke Merrill was tagged out trying to score on Wilson's fly ball to right field.

In Friday's two games, six Eastern pitchers surrendered only five earned runs but the Warriors managed only three runs on 12 hits and one extra-base hit. Dimmon gave up only one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. Accomando, senior Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA), Larivee and sophomore Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) all had two hits but were the only Eastern players with more than one.

Eastern batted .211 in its three tournament games, with Cammuso, Vaccarelli and O'Connell all collecting four hits and Cammuso also reaching with a walk and hit-by-pitch.


Softball: In NCAAs, Bears Claw Warriors

After loss, Warriors need five wins in three days to capture regional

teepee300dpi_2442.jpgMANSFIELD, Conn. -  The Eastern Connecticut State University softball team has not had to play catch-up very often this year. If the Warriors hope to capture a third straight regional championship, that's exactly what they'll have to do.

In a second-round game at the NCAA Division III Mansfield Regional Tournament,  top-seeded Eastern (41-2) had a 40-game win streak ended and was knocked into the losers' bracket in a 5-0 winners' bracket loss to fifth-seeded U.S. Coast Guard Academy Friday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.

Eastern, which survived a loss in the first game of the championship round in last year's regional, will need to win five games in the next three days to advance to its third straight NCAA Division III national tournament. The Warriors face third-seeded  University of Rochester Saturday at 11 a.m. and would need to eliminate either fourth-seeded Ithaca College or sixth-seeded St. John Fisher College at 6:30 in order to extend their season until Sunday. Eastern would need two victories Sunday and another Monday to advance.

Coast Guard (28-17) faces second-seeded Tufts University in a meeting of the two remaining undefeated teams Saturday at 4 p.m.. That winner needs one victory either Sunday or Monday to claim the crown in the double-elimination tournament.

In a battle of senior All-America pitchers in Eastern's Molly Rathbun (Hebron) and Coast Guard's Hayley Feindel, the Bears broke a scoreless tie by scoring all five of their runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits - three coming home on sophomore leadoff hitter Devin Fellman's home run - to defeat Eastern (41-2) for the first time in three games this year.

The all-time NCAA leader in strikeouts (1,449) and wins (124), Feindel (21-8) was nursing a broken right finger and did not pitch against Eastern in the regular season. Friday, she gained revenge for a 1-0, nine-inning loss to the Warriors in the 2010 regional championship game by tossing a complete-game two-hitter with ten strikeouts and only one walk. She became the first pitcher to shut out Eastern in more than four years.

With two outs in the fourth, , Coast Guard senior Jamie Kim and freshman Erin Lisko each drove in a run on back-to-back singles. They were followed by Fellman's three-run homer to dead center field - her seventh roundtripper of the season.

Needing a victory to break her own program season record, Rathbun (30-2) shouldered her first defeat since dropping a 4-2 decision to Tufts University on the opening day of the season in Clermont, Fla. Rathbun allowed eight hits and two walks while fanning six through the first four innings.

 Rathbun singled with one out and one on in the first, but Feindel stranded two runners in the with  a pair of inning-ending strikeouts. She retired 12 in a row before junior Kassondra Silva (Hamden) singled with one out in the fifth and the Warriors down by five.  The Bears had three baserunners through the first three innings on two singles and a walk before breaking through in the fourth by scoring all of its runs with two out.  Three consecutive batters reached safely before Fellman launched her three-run home run on a 1-2 pitch.

Eastern junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) opened the game by reaching on an infield error but was hitless in three at-bats as her program-record 33-game hitting streak came to an end. She also grounded to third in the third and flew out to left to open the sixth.


Softball: It's Eastern, Easily, in NCAAs

Warriors pound Lesley in opening game of regional, 10-1


LISTEN.mp3 Post-game interview with Priscilla Alicea (Courtesy of Wayne Norman, WILI radio)

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University senior Molly Rathbun (Hebron) twirled a three hitter for her 100th career victory in 112 decisions and  combined with classmate Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) to go 4-for-7 at the plate with four RBI as the top-seeded Warriors defeated  the nation's top-ranked offensive team -- Lesley University --  by a score of 10-1 in  five innings in the opening game of the 2012 NCAA Division III Mansfield, Conn. Regional Softball Tournament at the Eastern Softball Field.

Above:  Priscilla Alicea (Photo by Nicholas Noheimer)

Top-seeded Eastern (41-1)  found success early with an unearned run as junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) scampered home on an infield miscue for the 1-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the second Alicea smacked a two-RBI double to right center before Rathbun singled to centerfield for another Eastern run.

The regional hosts then opened the game up in the fourth as the Warriors doubled their scoring output as freshman Jacqui Alvarado (Bay Shore, NY), junior Kelly Paterson (Southington) and Alicea connected on run-producing singles as sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester) drew aN RBI walk.

Lesley, which lost for the first time in its last 15 contests, denied Rathbun her 15th shutout of the season in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Allison Fountain sent the ball to left center and stole second to set the stage for a 13 pitch battle between Rathbun and sophomore Nicole Mercurio. The Lynx batter then singled to left field to drive in Fountain.

A pair of ground-outs helped plate two more runs for Eastern.

Rathbun (30-1) scattered three hits over five innings while striking out seven en route to the victory which ties the program record that she set in 2010. It was her 29th straight win of the season and helped the Warriors  extend their New England winning streak to 40 - one shy of the national record for consecutive wins in one season set by the University of St. Thomas (MN) in 2004  on the way to the first of its two straight national titles.

Senior Cassandra Knox was tagged with the loss as she slips to 10-6 on the year as she allowed eight runs - five earned - on nine hits. Junior Mary Dembinski surrendered a pair of runs on one hit in one inning of relief.

In addition to Alicea and Rathbun, Paterson collected a pair of hits in a 2-for-2 outing with 2-RBI and a run scored as Alvarado touched home plate three times.

Senior Jenna Fralick joined Fountain and Mercurio in the hit column for the Lynx.

Cooper reached on an infield single in the fifth inning  which improved her New England-record hitting streak to 33, equaling the third-longest streak in NCAA Division III history  (11shy of the all-time record set by Heather Bortz of Moravian in the 2003 and 2004 seasons).

Rathbun became the eighth pitcher  in Division III history - third in New England --  to attain the 100-win plateau. Coast Guard's Hayley Feindel and Kim Sears of Wheaton are the only New England pitchers with more.

The victory was the 283rd for Eastern 11th-year head coach Diana Pepin, who needs two to become the winningest coach in program history.

LEC: Eastern Dominates All-Conference

Little East Conference
2012 Spring Award-Winners

(LEC baseball awards to be announced Tuesday)

SOFTBALL (40-1/14-0 LEC, LEC regular-season and tournament champion)
Priscilla Alicea  Sr. OF  First-Team All-Conference
Fourth-time first-team pick... rightfielder who holds the program career record with 202 hits... .382 (50-for-131), 40 runs, 21 RBI.

rathbun head 72_2758.jpgMolly Rathbun  Sr. P/DP   Player-of-the-Year
Hebron    Pitcher-of-the-Year
     First-Team All-Conference
First player in LEC softball history to garner both honors in the same season... Fourth-time first-team pick... three-time Pitcher-of-the-Year... 29-1, 0.40 ERA, 286 Ks in 176.0 innings... has won 28 straight decisions and has 99 career wins...

Arielle Cooper  Jr.  3B  First-Team All-Conference
Named second team in 2010... .457 (63-for-138), 10 HRs, 114 TBs, .978  fielding pct... MVP of LEC tournament... program-record 32-game hitting streak...

Megan Bondy  So C  Second-Team All-Conference
2012: Has appeared in 38 games with 32 starts (batting only eight times)... .991 fielding pct. on 342 chances... has thrown out eight of 24 basestealers...

Kelly Paterson  Jr. Utility Second-Team All-Conference
Has started 26 games at first base and nine at second base...  has batted in four different positions in the order...  .295 (23-for-78) with 18 runs and 17 RBI  .981 fielding pct. on 161 chances...

Diana Pepin (11th Year)    Coach-of-the-Year (Co-)
Has won or shared the award four times in the last seven years...  has led program to 40-2 record in LEC the last three years... team was first to go undefeated in LEC regular-season this year...

MEN'S LACROSSE (12-5, 7-0 LEC, LEC regular-season and playoff champion)

devine jersey 72_2852.jpgMike Devine  So. M  Offensive Player-of-the-Year
Cheshire      First-Team All-Conference
Program's fifth Offensive POY in 11 years...  leads team with 45 goals and is second with 57 points... second in LEC in goals per game and fifth in points per game...

Salieu Bolivar  Sr. M  First-Team All-Conference
Repeat selection to first team... Has started all 17 games with 15 goals and five assists and 34 ground balls...

Chris Brown  So. D  First-Team All-Conference
Cohasset, MA
Has started all 16 games in which he has appeared... second behind faceoff man with 53 ground balls.. one goal...

Josh Dubinsky  Jr. Specialist First-Team All-Conference
Faceoff midfielder with a .630 winning percentage (233-for-370) with 185 ground balls... fourth nationally in ground balls per game... among the single-season leaders in faceoffs won and taken and ground balls...

flynn jersey 72_3389.jpgTommy Flynn  Sr. LSM  Defensive Player-of-the-Year
Mineola, NY      First-Team All-Conference
 Program's fifth Defensive POY in last 11 years... third-time selection, second as a first-teamer... team's shut-down defender... has started all 17 matches... 49 ground balls and three assists...

Michael Sullinger  Sr. A  First-Team All-Conference
Second-team pick in 2011... leads team with 77 points and is second with 34 goals and second in game-winning goals... leads LEC in assists per agme, is second in points per game and fourth in goals per game...
Tyler Fresen  So. M  Second-Team All-Conference
Has appeared in all 17 matches with 15 goals and 20 assists with 19 ground balls...

Justin Axel (5th Year)    Coach-of-the-Year
Led Eastern to its seventh LEC playoff title in 12 years last weekend... team was picked to finish second in the pre-season...  team is 31-3 in five years of LEC regular-season play with three undefeated seasons and two playoff titles...


WOMEN'S LACROSSE (12-7/4-2 LEC, lost in LEC playoff semifinals)
Megan Barrett  Sr. D  First-Team All-Conferen
Setauket, NY
Third-time All-LEC pick, all to the first team...  started all 18 matches in which she appeared, with 37 ground balls (second on the team, 17 draw controls and 16 caused turnovers (second)... had one goal...

Daniela Marchitto Jr. M  First-Team All-Conference
First-team repeater... had team-leading 61 goals and 82 points (sixth best ever in a season) and shared the team lead with 21 assists... ranks fourth in the LEC in goals per game, sixth in points per game, tenth in assists per game and tied for first in game-winning goals...

prizio head 72_2626.jpgAshley Prizio  Sr. A  Offensive Player-of-the-Year
Brookfield      First-Team All-Conference
Repeated as Offensive POY...third-time All-LEC (in her three-year career), second time as a first-team selection... shared the team lead in assists and was second in goals and points... fifth in the LEC in assists and points per game and seventh in goals per game...

Rachel Meotti  Jr. D  Second-Team All-Conference
Second-team selection in two-year career...  started all 18 games in which she appeared and led the team in ground balls and caused turnovers and was second in draw controls... had one goal...

M-Lax: Slow Start Costly for Warriors

Six-goal third quarter puts them back in contention in 13-9 NCAA loss

brownTC72dpi_1651.jpgAt left: Chris Brown (24) battles Trinity in the third quarter Wednesday.

HARTFORD, Conn. --  Eastern Connecticut State University converted eight of 21 shots and outscored Trinity College in the second half after missing 19 of 20 in the first in a 13-9 loss in the opening round of the NCAA Division III men's lacrosse tournament Wednesday afternoon at at Jessee/Miller Field.

Trailing 8-1 at halftime and by eight three minutes into the second half, Eastern (12-6) regained its scoring touch to outscore No. 17 Trinity (11-6) 9-2 the rest of the way.

The Warriors scored three times in the final minute of the third quarter on goals by seniors Michael Sullinger (Brookfield), and Salieu Bolivar (Norwalk) and one  by sophomore Tyler Fresen (Newington) to cut the gap to five with 15 minutes later, then pulled as close as three, 12-9 with six minutes left on early fourth-quarter strikes by senior Jeremy Cogliano (Bedford, MA) and a man-up marker by first-year junior Christian Leone (West Norwalk).

Eastern junior Josh Dubinski (Woodstock) won 18 of 25 faceoffs against four different Trinity opponents  and finished his first season as a starter with a  .635 winning percentage (251-for-395).

The Warriors had won seven straight and nine of ten prior to the loss. Eastern had qualified for its seventh NCAA tournament in 12 years by winning last weekend's Little East Conference playoff title.

Appearing in its first NCAA tournament (as an at-large selection), the Bantams defeated Eastern for the sixth straight time after the Warriors had won six of the first eight in the series.


Baseball: Warriors Capture LEC Opener

Darby wins sixth straight as starter, Cammuso drives in four runs

cammuso_72dpi5233.jpgLEC LOGO PARE.jpgGORHAM, Maine. Junior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI) won his sixth straight decision as a starter and sophomore Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) and senior Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA) drove in first-inning runs to help lift the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team to a 6-3 verdict over 2011 tournament champion Rhode Island College in an opening game of the 2012 Little East Conference Baseball Tournament at the USM Baseball Stadium.

At left: Steve Cammuso

A winner of seven of its last nine, fourth-seeded Eastern (29-11) faces No. 2 see Keene State College (30-11) in a winners' bracket game Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Owls trimmed No. 5 Massachusetts Boston, 6-5, in Wednesday's second game. Top-seeded University of Southern Maine was upended by No. 6 Plymouth State University, 3-2, in Wednesday's first game.

Southern Maine faces UMass Boston in an elimination game Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and Plymouth meets Rhode Island at 12:30 p.m. If Eastern defeats Keene State, it will face the Plymouth-Rhode Island winner Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Eastern snapped a four-game losing streak at the hands of Rhode Island (25-16), which had swept the Warriors, 12-7, 8-0, two weeks ago at Mansfield after downing Eastern twice in the 2011 LEC tournament at Mansfield.

Darby (6-0) allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks through the first five innings but the Warriors never trailed after taking the early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Leading 3-1, Esatern scored three times in the fifth after there were two out and none on. O'Connell reached on an infield single and junior Joe Balowski (Berlin) walked before Cammuso launched his third home run of the season to left off RIC junior righty  David Hoey (6-2). In RIC's regular-season shutout  of Eastern, Hoey became the first RIC pitcher in 35 years to hold the Warriors scoreless in a complete game.

After commiting seven errors in the two regular-season losses to the Anchormen, Eastern put together its first errorless game in three weeks Wednesday and only  its fifth all season.

O'Connell had three hits and Cammuso and sophomore Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) two each. Cammuso plated four runs and scored two and O'Connell scored twice.

Since winning six straight, Rhode Island has now split its last 16. The Anchormen  stranded 14 runners on base against four Eastern pitchers. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth, RIC scored once on a leadoff triple by No. 9 hitter Kevin Carey and a ground ball, but Darby stranded runner son second and third with a fly ball to right and swinging strikeout.  The Anchormen also left the bases loaded in the seventh when junior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston) fanned Cody Ortega to end the inning.

Senior righty Michael Hepple (Newington) pitched a scoreless ninth to gain his fourth save. With the tying run at bat, Hepple got Ortega to ground to Vaccarelli at third to end the game.

Since moving into the starting rotation a month ago, Darby  is 6-0 in six starts witih a 1.70 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 37.0 innings, with opponents batting just .215 against him.

Eastern has won the LEC tournament the last three times that it has been hosted by Southern Maine, defeating Keene twice in the final and Southern Maine once. The Warriors are now 13-2 in their last 15 games played at USM in this tournament.

M-Lax: Warriors Visit Trinity in NCAA

LEC champs carry seven-game win streak into 7th NCAA tourney


Complete Bracket.pdf

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team makes its seventh appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament when it visits first-time qualifier Trinity College  Wednesday  at Jessee/Miller Field at a time to be announced.

At left: Seniors who accepted the LEC championship award Saturday will lead the Warriors into Wednesday's NCAA tournament. With Interim Director of Athletics Michael Stenko (far left) are Michael Sullinger, Kevin Fechtmann, Jeremy Cogliano, Salieu Bolivar, and Mark Vincent.

Eastern (12-5), which received votes in this week's USILA Division III national poll, qualified for the tournament  by earning  the automatic bid by winning the Little East Conference tournament final Saturday at home against visiting Keene State College, 13-10.  It was the team's seventh LEC title in 12 years.

Ranked No. 17 nationally,  Trinity (10-6) qualified for its first NCAA tournament as an at-large selection after losing to No. 12 Bowdoin College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) semifinals, 10-8 at Medford, MA. Trinity had beaten Hamilton College in the NESCAC quarterfinals, 14-8, April 28.

The Warriors  have won nine of ten. Eastern has faced one team ranked in this week's Top 20 (losing to No. 9 Stevens Tech, 14-10) and four which have also received votes (defeating Keene State twice and Babson College once and losing to Amherst College, all at home).

Trinity is 2-2 against this week's Top 20, defeating No. 5 Tufts University, splitting with  No. 12 Bowdoin College and losing to No. 16 Western New England University. The Bantams won seven straight at one point this year after dropping their first two of the season and are 3-4 in their last seven.

The teams have faced three common opponents. Both defeated Western Connecticut and lost to Wesleyan University. Eastern lost to Amherst, while the Bantams defeated the Lord Jeffs.

The NCAA appearance will be the second in four years for the Warriors under fifth-year head coach Justin Axel. Two current players appeared when the club split two NCAA games in 2009, defeating the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in overtime for its first-ever NCAA victory before losing at Wesleyan. Current senior defenseman  Tommy Flynn (Mineola, NY) started both games while current senior midfielder Salieu Bolivar (Norwalk) came off the bench against Wesleyan.

Flynn and Bolivar are two of this year's top players, along with senior goalie Jamie Tommins (Fairfield), senior attack Michael Sullinger (Brookfield), junior faceoff midfielder Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock), and sophomore midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire).

Tommins was named MVP of the LEC tournament after making a career-high 24 saves (one shy of the record) in the championship match win over Keene State. Sullinger (43-34-77) and Devine (45-12-57) are the top two offensive threats, while Dubinsky has won 63.0 percent of his faceoffs (233-for-370).  Devine's goal total is the sixth-highest in a season in program history and Sullinger's point total has equaled the fifth-highest. Dubinsky has won the fifth-most faceoffs in a season.

Three Trinity players have earned All-NESCAC honors this season: first-teamers Pete Johnson, a senior goalie, and junior attack Rob Nogueras and second-team selection Nick Shaheen, a junior midfielder. Junior T.J. Cholnoky (76-170/44.7) and sophomore Will Benjamin (60-142/42.3) have split faceoff chores.

Eastern is 6-7 all-time against Trinity but has lost the last five after winning six of the first eight in the series. Trinity won by a score of 16-3 when the teams met last in 2010, at Hartford.


Awards Banquet: 102 Athletes Honored


At left: Forty student-athletes qualified for a scholar-athlete award in 2011/12.

A total of 102 student-athletes and one team were honored Sunday night at the annual Athletic Awards Banquet at the Betty Tipton Room. A total of 52 seniors and 40 scholar-athletes were presented plaques, with other awardees including the Bonnie J. Edmndson Senior Female SportsPerson-of-the-Year and Francis E. Geissler Senior Male SportsPerson-of-the-Year Award, the Male and Female Athlete-of-the-Year, Male and Female Rookie-of-the-Year and the Individual Sport Athlete and Rookie-of-the-Year. Also recognized was the women's cross country program, which received the Faculty Athletic Representative Award for academic excellence.Pictured above are the recipients of the Edmondson and Geissler recipients. From left, David Geissler, son of the late Francis Geissler, recipients Salieu Bolivar, Jamie Kohn and Ashley Prizio, and Bonnie Edmondson. Carl Appel (soccer) was named Male Athlete-of-the-Year and Molly Rathbun (softball) Female Athlete-of-the-Year, Adam Roderick (baseball) Male Rookie-of-the-Year and Kristina Forsman (basketball) Female Rookie-of-the-Year, Nadine Menard (women's swimming) Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year and Rachael Thatcher (women's swimming) Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year.  

For print-quality photos of the scholar-athlete group shot or of the individual award-winners in jpeg format, contact Bob Molta at


Softball: Warriors a Three-Time Champ

Cooper gains MVP laurels as they down Western in LEC title game, 6-2

WATCH: NCAA Selection Show -- Monday at 10 a.m.


WATCH: Post-game interviews (3:31)

MANSFIELD, Conn. - Junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) had three hits - including her tenth home run of the season that highlighted a three-run third inning - as the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team claimed its third straight Little East Conference Tournament championship Saturday by defeating Western Connecticut State University, 6-2, in the first game of the championship round at the Eastern Softball Field.

Ranked No. 2 nationally, top-seeded Eastern (40-1) set a program season record for victories with its 39th straight triumph - 12th straight in the LEC tournament play the last three years. Eastern qualifies automatically for the NCAA tournament and will a host a regional tournament beginning Thursday.


At left: Tournament MVP Arielle Cooper accepts the award from LEC Commissioner Jonathan Harper.

Cooper's two-run home run in the third helped give senior All-America Molly Rathbun (Hebron) her 29th victory of the season (28 straight) against a loss. Rathbun has been the winning pitcher in the team's last 11 games. Rathbun pitched a six-hitter with seven strikeouts and the Warriors responded with ten hits off senior Magen Dargon of  fifth-seeded Western, which won three games in the tournament after a 3-1 loss to No. 2 seed Keene State College.

Western (30-15), which needed to beat Eastern twice in order to capture its fourth tournament title, had advanced to the championship round by eliminating Keene State in six innings, 8-0, in the first game of the day. Senior shortstop Danielle Basciano,  the two-time LEC Player-of-the-Year, drove in six runs in that game with two doubles and a triple and Dargon shut down  Keene (25-10-1) on four hits with eight strikeouts.

Named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player,  Cooper slammed her tenth home run of the season and 23rd of her career (second all-time to Rathbun for the career record and one shy of the season mark) in the three-run third, junior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) blasted a two-run home run in the fourth out of the No. 9 slot in the lineup - her second of the season.

sb lec champs72_1406.jpgWestern managed only one hit through the first five innings against Rathbun (a leadoff single by Basciano in the fourth), but broke through against Rathbun by collecting three of its hits. With two out, No. 3 hitter Jackie Zilnicki tripled in the first run and cleanup hitter Kylee Ruther plated Zilnicki with a double.  Rathbun forced a comebacker to end the threat. Rathbun got two quick outs in the seventh and later stranded two runners with a tournament-ending popup to Paterson at first.

Cooper extended her program record hitting streak to 32 with three hits, with senior rightfielder Priscilla Alicea (Trumbull) - her collected her 200th career hit Friday -- and Paterson adding two hits each. Basciano (two hits) was the only Western batter with more than one hit.

Led by Cooper (.643), sophomore shortstop Megan Godwin (Manchester) (.500), Alicea (.462) and Paterson (.444), Eastern batted .423 in four tournament games and commited only two errors.  Cooper drove in seven runs and scored six in the tournament and also handled ten chances at third base without an error. Sophomore centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford) hit two tournament home runs and led the Warriors with eight RBI, Rathbun driving in seven and scoring five runs.

Rathbun pitched all but two innings, throwing three complete games and two shutouts and giving up only 17 hits in 23 innings with 39 strikeouts and five walks. She was named tournament MVP as both a sophomore and junior.

Western's Zilnicki batted .467 in the tournament, with senior Kristin Ferrrante at .417 and Basciano .412. Basciano drove in seven runs (six against Keene Saturday) and Zilnicki four. Dargon was credited with all five decisions for the Colonials, compiling a 2.15 ERA in 29 1/3 innings with 33 strikeouts and nine walks.


M-Lax: Tommins Saves Warriors, 13-10

Senior goalie turns in MVP performance in LEC title win over Keene



Photos by Chris Ganoe

tommins jersey 72dpi_2854.jpg

WATCH: Post-game interview with Jamie Tommins (at left) (3:23)

MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior Jamie Tommins (Fairfield) made a career-high 24 saves and the man-down unit killed ten of 11 penalties as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team won its seventh Little East Conference championship in 12 years with a 13-10 victory over Keene State College Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

A winner of seven straight, Eastern (12-5) scored seven consecutive goals in the second half to erase a three-goal deficit with 25 minutes left and down two-time defending playoff champion Keene (10-6). The Owls had won seven straight - including a 21-0 pasting of Plymouth State University inThursday's semifinals -- since dropping a 14-11 decision to Eastern at Mansfield a month ago.

Keene outshot Eastern, 55-33, but Tommins - named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player -- turned back 24 shots -- one shy of the program record --, including 11 in the fourth quarter when the Owls outshot the Warriors, 22-4. The Warriors scored the final five goals of the third quarter to move out to a 10-8 lead with 15 minutes remaining, then scored the first two of the fourth quarter to build the lead to four, 12-8, with nine minutes left.

Eastern accumulated nine minutes and 30 seconds worth of penalties, but its man-down unit killed off seven penalties in the final quarter to preserve the lead and surrendered just one man-up goal on 11 tries in the contest.

tomminsaction72dp_1305.jpgAt left: Jamie Tommins lines up this second-half shot by Keene's Taylor Jette.

There were five ties and two lead changes before Eastern took the lead for good  on sophomore midfielder Mike Devine's (Cheshire) goal on a pass from sophomore attack Mike Jordan (Cheshire) that made it 9-8 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Shut out in the first half, Devine scored three of the first four goals in the 7-0 run - the first two on assists from senior attack Michael Sullinger (Brookfield).  Sullinger, the team leader in points, closed out the third quarter with his  second goal of the match with 5.8 seconds left, and first-year junior attack Christian Leone (West Norwalk) and senior attack Jeremy Cogliano (Bedford, MA) beat Keene junior goalie Jason Leser  to open the fourth quarter to give the hosts a four-goal lead, 12-8, with nine minutes left.

After the Warriors opened the second half with a goal from sophomore attack Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH) that tied the match for the fourth time, Keene took its largest lead (three goals) on strikes from senior attack Matt Schairer,  senior midfielder Ian Hart and junior midfielder J.T. Galloway. Devine  (two goals) and Morrissette then struck in a span of just over  two minutes as the Warriors began to take the momentum.

Junior Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 18 of 26 faceoffs Saturday  against three Keene opponents and 39 of 54 (72.2 percent) in two matches this season against Keene. Sullinger led the Warriors with six points (four assists) and Leone (four assists) and Morrissette (four goals) added five points each. Dubinsky had 15 ground balls and the Warriors survived eight more turnover s than the Owls.

Leser stopped nine  Eastern shots, with junior attack Taylor Jette  scoring four goals on 12 shots and Schairer two on 11 attempts.  Jette scored three of his goals in the first 26 minutes but only one the rest of the way, that coming with his team down by four with five minutes left. Jette and Schairer have combined for 88 of their team's goals, with senior midfielder Ian Hart adding 33 (Hart scored once on ten shots Saturday).

Twenty-one of Keene's shots were wide of the goal.

Eastern qualifies for the NCAA Division III Tournament --  its seventh in the last 12 years, which gets underway Wednesday.


Baseball: Warriors Must Settle For 4th

One game behind leader at start of weekend, Warriors finish fourth in LEC


bizzano head 72_2392.jpg

Steve Bizzaro (at left)

GORHAM, Maine -- Sophomore John Carey had four hits  and three RBI to help the University of Southern Maine Huskies sweep No. 21  Eastern Connecticut State University, 4-2 and 5-1, in Little East Conference baseball action Saturday afternoon at the USM Baseball Stadium.

The sweep extended the Huskies' winning streak to a season-high seven games and improved their overall record to 23-16.  By virtue of the sweep, the Huskies won the LEC regular season crown for the second time in four years and will host the conference's six-team, double-elimination championship tournament that will start Wednesday morning.

The Warriors had their six-game winning snapped with the first-game loss.  The Warriors finished the regular season 28-11 overall and 8-6 in LEC play. 

The Warriors will be the fourth seed in the upcoming tournament.

Heading into the weekend, Eastern had a chance to win or share its 12th regular-season LEC title in 16 years. The Warriors shared second place in the conference standings on Thursday with Keene State College and Rhode Island College, one game behind Southern Maine. On Friday, Keene swept UMass Dartmouth at home and Rhode Island split at UMass Boston. Thus, after being swept, the Warriors landed in fourth place in the final standings, three games back of Southern Maine, two behind Keene and one behind 2011 LEC tournament champ Rhode Island College.

The conference record is the worst in six years for Eastern, which won last year's regular-season title and shared the crown in 2010. The last time the Warriors finished with as many as six conference losses they won the LEC tournament in 2006, hosted by Southern Maine as the No. 3 seed.

There was good and bad news for Eastern resulting from the sweep. The bad news is that the Warriors missed out on a chance for at least a share of the LEC regular-season title and will open the tournament against No. 3 seed Rhode Island College, a team which won last year's LEC tournament at Eastern. After losing 15 in a row to Eastern, the Anchormen have beaten the Warriors the last four times the teams have met

The good news is that Eastern has won the LEC tournament the last three times that it has been hosted by Southern Maine (2001, 2006, 2009).

Eastern will face Rhode Island in the third of three games Wednesday. With an opening win the Warriors would play in the third game Thursday against the winner of a Wednesday game between No. 2 Keene State College and No. 5 UMass Boston. A Wednesday loss would drop Eastern into an elimination game Thursday. The Warriors would play the second game of the day against the winner of Wednsday's game between No. 1 Southern Maine and No. 6 Plymouth State University. 

Eastern closed out the regular season with six straight road games, having won the first four.
For Eastern, junior Mike Riemer (Ellington) led an 11-hit attack in the opener with three hits.  Junior Joe Balowski (Berlin), sophomore Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA) and rookie Steve Bizzaro (Wappingers Falls, NY) each had two hits.  Senior Evan Chamberlain (Amston) started on the hill and was saddled with the loss after lasting just one-third of an inning.

Senior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA) had a 17-game hitting streak snapped in the first game when he grounded out four times and flew out once in five plate appearances. Cammuso began a new streak with an infield single in the seventh inning of the nightgap.

In the second game, Bizzaro and sophomore Adam Roderick (West Hartford) had two hits.  Senior right-handed starter Jim Dimon (Seymour) pitched into the seventh inning allowing six hits and one earned run while striking out four.  An infield throwing error in the fourth inning resulted in two unearned runs against Dimon.

Carey had a key RBI single in the Huskies' three-run first-inning uprising in the opening game, and had a pair of RBI singles and a steal of home on a double steal in the nightcap.  His steal of home in the fourth inning put the Huskies in the lead for good.

Rookie Jake Glauser was the Huskies only other repeat hitter in the opener getting a double and two singles.

Senior right-hander Ben Ives picked up his eighth win of the season without a loss by going seven innings allowing 10 hits and three walks while fanning three.  Junior southpaw Nick Douglass earned his sixth save of the year going the final two innings.

In the second game, four USM hurlers combined to limit the Warriors to seven hits and one unearned run.  Senior Dustin Stanton, the second pitcher used, picked up his first win of the season, going 3 1/3 innings.  Douglass and sophomore Forrest Chadwick combined to get the final five outs.  Sophomore left-hander Logan Carman started and went four innings giving up only one hit and the unearned run.

Carey, juniors Tucker White Brett Barrett and sophomore Matt Verrier each had two hits in the second game.  Verrier had the only extra base hit, a double, in the game.

Game One

After spotting the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the opening inning when Roderick scored on a fielder's choice, the Huskies took advantage of two hit batters and three hits to push three runs across.  Senior David Ricker  opened the inning being hit by a pitch, and Glauser followed with a single.  White doubled home Ricker and sent Glauser to third.  Junior Nick Grady was clipped by another Chamberlain pitch to load the bases.  Chadwick brought home Glauser with a groundout, and Carey singled in White to end Chamberlain's day.

USM picked up an insurance run in the fourth as Verrier walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on Glauser's double.

The Warriors got a run of Ives in the fifth to close the gap to 4-2.  Balowski, sophomore T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA) and O'Connell strung together consecutive singles to produce a run, but Ives escaped further damage as the Huskies turned an inning-ending double play.

Douglass had an eventful two-inning save putting two Warriors aboard in each inning, but was able to get the key outs.

Game Two

The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Bizzaro singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.  He advanced to third on an infield error, and scored by beating the relay throw when the Huskies left home plate unattended after putting out sophomore Kyle Tehan (Oakville) during a rundown between first and second.

Carey tied the game in the fourth driving in Grady, and helped the Huskies take the lead when he and Barrett worked the double steal.

The Huskies added to their lead with a single run in the seven inning as Barrett scored on sophomore Matt Powers' groundout.  The Huskies plated two more in the eighth inning on Carey's RBI single and Barrett's successful squeeze bunt.

Douglass came on to getting an inning-ending lineout into a double play in the eighth, and Chadwick got three straight fly ball outs in the ninth to give the Huskies the sweep.

USM Sports Information contributed to this game account

W-Lax: Eastern Ousted from LECs

In re-match of 2011 playoff inal, Keene prevails again, 7-6


KEENE, N.H. The second-seeded  Keene State College women's lacrosse team advanced to the championship game of the Little East Conference tournament with a 7-6 defensive-minded semifinal victory over third seed Eastern Conn. State at Owl Athletic Complex on Friday. 

Winners of 12 out of their last 13 games, the Owls (14-3) tied the program record for wins in a season and will be hosting the finals for the first time on Sunday.  Keene State, the defending LEC champs, earned the right to host after top seed Plymouth State was upset by fifth seed Western Conn. 10-9 in the other semifinal game on Friday. 

The Owls built up an early lead and had to hang on for dear life against the upset-minded Warriors (12-7).

Keene State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game.  Sophomore ElizaWitherbee, who had three of the Owls' seven goals, walked right in and scored to give the Owls a1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the game. Three minutes later, junior Lauren Brown found Witherbee cutting to the net for a goal to make it 2-0.   Brown capped off the early uprising with a goal to put the Owls up 3-0.

KSC sophomore goalie Erin Taylor kept the Warriors off the board with a couple of saves before senior Ashley Prizio (Brookfield) beat her with a turn-and shoot one-timer, making it 3-1 game.

After Witherbee put the Owls up 4-1, KSC held the ball before setting up a well-executed play that resulted in a goal by Brown with three second to go that gave Keene State a 5-1 halftime lead. 

Keene State and Eastern traded goals early in the second half.  Junior Daniela Marchitto (Orange.) scored on a free position in the first minute of play and sophomore Julie Trombetta (answered with a goal for the Owls.   Prizio and KSC senior Sammi Benson followed with unassisted goals to make it a 7-3 game.

Both teams' defenses stiffened from there.  

The Warriors made thing interesting scoring the final three goals of the game, including a free position goal by junior Christina Rully (Orange) with 1:59 to play that made it a one goal (7-6) game.  

Both teams turned the ball over in the final minute of play.  After KSC cleared the ball to the center of the field, the Warriors got the ball back, but a long pass to Alexa Foldy (Brookfield) sailed by her stick as time expired on the clock.

Rully and Prizio each had two goals for Eastern while senior Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton) stopped seven shots in the Warriors' net.

The statistics were indicative of the close play.  KSC had a slight 23-18 advantage in shots while the Warriors led KSC 8-6 in draw controls.

Keene State will be making its fourth trip to the LEC championship game.  The Owls lost to Plymouth State in 2004 finals and defeated Eastern to win the crown in 20009 and 2011

Courtesy of Keene Sports Information


Softball: Warriors One Win from Title

Eastern now 3-0 in LEC tournament after downing Keene, 10-0 


MANSFIELD, Conn. - Two-time Little East conference Softball Tournament MVP Molly Rathbun (Hebron) of Eastern Connecticut State University struck out 15 for her 27th consecutive victory as the Warriors moved into the championship round of the 2012 LEC Tournament with a 10-0 victory over Keene State College Friday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.

At right: Molly Rathbun

Top-seeded Eastern  (39-1) which tied the program record for season wins with its 38th straight victory, is  the only remaining undefeated team and needs one win  (in two tries) to claim its third straight title . Second-seeded Keene (25-9-1) faces fifth-seeded Western Connecticut State University (29-14) in an elimination game Saturday at noon. The winner must defeat  Eastern twice later in the day to unseat the two-time defending champions.
Rathbun (28-1) won her third straight tournament game and has now been the pitcher of record in the team's last ten wins. She  allowed only four hits in a game which featured 18 hits but no extra base hits.
Eastern, ranked No. 2 nationally, broke open a tight game with six runs on six hits in chasing  senioir pitcher Emily Albin. Trailing 1-0, Keene threatened against Rathbun in the bottom of the third but Rathbun left runners on the corners with a swinging strikeout to end the threat. The first six batters reached safely for Eastern two innings later. Sophomore, Mattie Brett (Waterford) drove in two runs in the inning with a single, with junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic), junior Kassondra Silva (Hamden), senior Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) and Rathbun all plating one.

Already the program's career hit leader, Priscilla Alicea (at right) reached the 200-hit plateau Friday.

Alicea, Rathbun and Brett all drove in two runs in the game. Alicea had three hits and scored two runs and Rathbun, Cooper and sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester) all had two hits. Alicea collected her 200th career hit in the game and Cooper extended her program record hitting streak to 31. Rathbun became the first pitcher to shut out Keene this year since the Owls' season-opener.
Eastern 13, Rhode Island 2 (6)

In a battle of teams which had won their Thursday openers, the Warriors opened play Friday with a 13-2  win over third-seeded Rhode Island College.

The Warriors threatened right off the bat in the top of the first. RIC junior pitcher Emily Johnson got two quick outs, but Cooper singled through the left side and Godwin singled up the middle. Brett was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Emily Johnson induced a ground out to get out of the jam.

The Anchorwomen used the momentum to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame, courtesy of Stacy Pokora's eighth home run of the year.  It was Pokora's second homer in as many games at the tourney.

Eastern tied the game up and then took the lead in the fourth as freshman left fielder Shannon Martin (Wethersfield) led off with a single through the left side and was lifted for junior pinch runner Courtney Weber (Groton). Weber promptly moved up to second on a wild pitch and Silva delivered a game-tying single up the middle.

With two out and the bases full, Cooper singled to second base, bringing in junior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) and senior pinch runner Christine Yeomans (Durham). Godwin then singled in Rathbun and Brett delivered a lethal blow with a three-run homer (2) to left field, making it a 7-1 advantage for the top seed.

RIC loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning as Johnson doubled, junior right fielder Kristina Gingell singled and freshman first baseman Justin Thoma picked up a base knock. Freshman third baseman Monica Koehler plated Gingell with a one-out walk, but Rathbun recovered to strike out the next two hitters she faced to end the comeback bid.

Rathbun drew a one-out walk in the fifth and Cooper smacked a two-run homer (9) to center field to increase the visitor's lead to seven runs, 9-2.

In the sixth, junior relief pitcher Christine Acker (Milford) and sophomore pinch hitter Stephanie Johnson (Plantsville) each singled, with Acker moving up to third on an Anchorwoman error. With one down, Alicea walked to load the bases. Rathbun helped her own cause with grand slam (4) to center field to make it a 13-2 ballgame.

Rathbun pitched another strong game to get the win, allowing just two runs on five hits to go along with six strikeouts in four innings of work. Acker allowed just one hit in two innings of relief.

Johnson (8-10) took the loss, allowing eight runs on nine hits, to go along with seven walks and two strikeouts.

Cooper went 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, four RBI  and a home run. Rathbun went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, four RBI and a homer. Godwin was the only other Warrior with multiple hits, posting a 2-for-3 effort to go along with a run scored, two RBI and two walks.

Gingell went 2-for-2 with a walk and run scored. Pokora was 1-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI and a home run.

In three tournament games, Eastern has outscored the opposition 32-2 and outhit them 34-12.  In 16 tournament innings, Rathbun  has struck out 32 and walked four and allowed 11 hits and one earned run (two total).Led by Godwin (.545), Cooper (.545), Rathbun (.500), Silva (.500), Brett (.444) and Alicea (.444),  the Warriors are batting .430 as a team in the tournament and have commited only two errors.
Eastern has now won 11 straight LEC tournament games over three seasons.
Keene, ranked fourth in the NCAA New England region, has won four LEC tournament  titles but has finished second in each of its last three championship game appearances between 2008 and 2010. Western won the last of its three titles in  2004 and last reached the championship round in 2007.






Softball: Warriors Ease Past UMB, 9-0

Eastern opens Little East tournament with five-inning victory

godwinumb72dpi_0817.jpgMANSFIELD,Conn. - Senior Molly Rathbun (Hebron) won her 25th consecutive game with 11 strikeouts as top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University shut out sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston for the third time this year with a 9-0, five-inning victory in the first game of the 2012 Little East Conference Softball Championship Thursday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.

At left: Megan Godwin (Nicholas Noheimer photo)

Ranked No. 2 nationally, Eastern (37-1) won its ninth straight LEC tournament game, having swept four games each of the past two years en route to two straight titles. The Warriors have  won 36 straight this year while UMass Boston (17-20) lost for the seventh in its last nine games.

Eastern remains in the winners' bracket and will face No. 3 seed Rhode Island College (19-71) Friday at 10 a.m. The Anchorwomen  were upended by No. 4 Plymouth State University, 9-8, in Thursday's third game.

UMass Boston (17-21) was eliminated from its second straight tournament appearance in a 2-1 loss to No. 5 Western Connecticut in Thursday's fourth game.

Eastern scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the first inning  on three hits and an error. First-year sophomore transfer Mattie Brett (Waterford) blasted her first home of the year - a three-run shot to left that plated Rathbun and sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester). Rathbun had walked and Godwin had driven the first run with a bunt single.

Eleven of the outs in the game came via strikeout for Rathbun, who struck out five straight after junior Sue Killilea led off the game with an infield single.  Senior Maria Nasta, the team's No. 3 hitter, had the Beacons' other hit - a one-out single to center in the fourth.
Godwin and Brett each had two hits, with Godwin following Brett with two RBI. Junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) doubled and scored leading off the first inning for Eastern to stretch her record hitting streak to 29.

M-Lax: Warriors Gain Little East Final

 No. 1 seed  scores first seven goals en route to 14-5 win over UMass Dart

fresenumd72_1020.jpgMANSFIELD, Conn. --  The top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team scored the first seven goals of the match, then traded goals with No. 4 seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth the rest of the way in 14-5 victory in the semifinals of the 2012 Little East Conference playoffs Thursday night at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

At left: Tyler Fresen

With its sixth straight win, Eastern (11-5) moves into the championship game for the 11th time in 12 seasons and will host No. 2 seed Keene State College (14-3) Saturday at the Mansfield Outdoor Complext at 1 p.m.

Two-time defending playoff champion Keene eliminated No. 6 seed Plymouth State University, 21-0, Thursday afternoon at Keene, NH. Eastern and Keene are meeting in the final for the fourth straight year, Eastern winning in 2009.

Senior attack Michael Sullinger (Brookfield) led Eastern with four goals and four assists, giving him 41 goals and 30 assists for a team-best 71 points this year. Senior attack Jeremy Cogliano (Bedford, MA) added three goals and two assists as the Warriors compiled a +16 advantage in shots. Senior goalie Jamie Tommins (Fairfield) gained the win in net by stopping eight shots over the first 52 minutes.

Junior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 16 of 21 faceoffs against three UMass Dartmouth opponents and picked up ten ground balls..  Sophomore faceoff specialist Dan Bell of UMass Dartmouth was helped off the field with his team trailing 5-0 six minutes into action with a left leg injury. He did not return.

In its 7-0 scoring spree over the first eight minutes,  Sullinger had two goals and two assists, sophomore midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) two goals and sophomore midfielder Tyler Fresen (Newington) a goal and two assists. The Warriors capitalized by scoring on three of five extra-man tries and by commiting only two penalties, allowed the Corsairs just two man-up situations (both failed).

Senior defenseman Tommy Flynn (Mineola, NY) led Eastern with six ground balls, sophomore defenseman Chris Brown (Cohasset, MA) and junior long stick Jordan Munsell (Waterford) picking up four.

Eastern improved to 3-0 against the Corsairs in LEC playoff contests. Last year, the Warriors eliminated UMass in the first round, 14-8 at North Dartmouth, MA after the Corsairs had beaten Eastern for the first time in in 15 matches during the regular season, 10-9.


bolivar_head72dpi_8632.jpgWhen current Eastern Connecticut State University head men's lacrosse coach Justin Axel discovered Norwalk's Salieu Bolivar at a fall tournament at Yale University, he inquired about the future plans of the Brien McMahon High School senior.

The response of McMahon head boys' lacrosse coach Mike Epstein - who happened to be sharing a bleacher with Axel -- was that his star midfielder "wasn't going anywhere."

For those who know the inner-workings of the Gambian-born Bolivar - friends, family members, classmates and teammates - nothing could have been farther from the truth.  With that statement, Epstein was actually only referencing the fact that no college recruiters had  -- to that point -- taken an active interest in Bolivar.


Their loss was Eastern's gain.

"After I  saw Sal run down the field (at Yale), so I assumed he had commited to a Division I school, because his athleticism was through the roof," recalls Axel of his first glimpse of Bolivar. "Mike said that Sal wasn't going anywhere, and I said (laughing) 'what do you mean nowhere?' I said to myself, 'we need that kid up for a visit... I mean... tomorrow.'"

A four-year player and two-year captain at Eastern, Bolivar got a late start in the game of lacrosse. After settling in Bridgeport  from the West African country of Gambia at the age of nine, Bolivar had no knowledge of the game of lacrosse until one of his best friends talked him into going out for lacrosse as a way to stay in shape for football. Bolivar, literally, had no idea what he was getting into. Having grown up speaking Wolof, as well as English, Bolivar heard "cross" and was thinking more along the lines of "cross country" than "lacrosse."

And while the 5-foot-11 inch, 195 pound midfielder was exposed to the sport at least ten years later than most other high school and college players, he has been making up for it ever since through work, work, and more work. That work ethic, instilled by his mother, Fatou Jallow, has not been confined to lacrosse or sports in general. It comprises the fabric of Bolivar, whose work ethic on the field, in the classroom and in his everyday life, continues to amaze people.

"When people fail at one thing, they fall at several things, and those who succeed at some things succeed at many things," says Epstein, who has devoted much of his adult life to the young people of Norwalk  as an educator and coach at McMahon. "Sal is not going to fail at school, he's not going to fail on the field, he won't fail when he gets to the business world, and he won't fail in his marriage," adds Epstein. "He will work, work and work until he gets it right."
Going the extra mile has been Bolivar's mantra in all of his pursuits throughout his entire life. While he developed an affinity for math and computers at a young age - subjects that were stressed in his homeland -- Bolivar had spent hours developing and improving his writing and reading. In order to make up for lost time in lacrosse, he spent hours, days, weeks and months developing his stick skills. John DiPietro, a current Eastern teammate and former high school teammate, recalls the time when  Bolivar, with a broken right hand, spent months banging a lacrosse ball off the wall with his left hand. The commitment paid off handsomely: Axel says that many opponents think that Bolivar is actually a left-handed shot.

In order to be admitted to Eastern, Bolivar went through the University's STEP/CAP program throughout the summer prior to his freshman year. While involved in that program - which involves students for all but a few weeks of the summer - Bolivar spent his free time banging the ball off the racquetball courts in the Sports Center.

"Over the summer, I saw his work ethic ," recalls Axel. "Every day, I'd hear someone banging a ball off the wall. He'd be shooting, he'd be hitting the wall. He'd be (weight) lifting... he'd be doing everything."

By a vote of his peers, Bolivar has been elected as a team captain as both a junior and in this, his senior season. Axel says that Bolivar is a vocal leader, exhorting his and encouraging teammates constantly in practice, training sessions, and games.

Bolivar has progressed through the Eastern program to be one of the top players on the squad the last three years. As a freshman, he saw limited time as a defensive midfielder before his stick-handling improvement and hard shot made him one of the top offensive threats on the team. As a junior in 2011, he was named first team All-Little East Conference with 33 goals and 43 points. After a slow start this year, he scored six goals in the final three regular-season matches and brings 15 goals and 20 points and a season-high 29 ground balls into the semifinal round of the LEC playoffs, scheduled for Thursday.

Bolivar is a gifted athlete who was a hard-hitting linebacker as a four-year football player at McMahon. He captained both his lacrosse and football teams as a senior in high school and was named second-team all-conference in lacrosse and first-team all-conference in football  in the competitive Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) as a senior. Not surprisingly, he also merited the Coaches' Award.

For Bolivar, football came easy. Lacrosse required diligence.

"The footwork and defense were pretty easy, but the stick skills were kind of hard," admits Bolivar, who will turn 22 one week after graduation.. "It took me a lot of hours on the wall and cradling at home. In my junior and senior years (in high school), I was hitting the wall almost every day.  During football season, I would get out of practice and then go and hit the wall, and then go home. During winter break, I would hit the wall every day."

Epstein praises Bolivar as "an absolutely self-made kid. He has worked harder than pretty much anyone that we've ever had in our program."

During his senior season in high school, Bolivar anticipated playing football at the Division I level.  He says that if Axel hadn't come calling, he likely would have enrolled in community college for a year before enrolling at Central Connecticut State University to play at the Division I-AA level.

"Most of my (high school) teammates actually play (football) for Central or Southern. I was trying  to go down that road. But right now, I'm just playing lacrosse... so this was my road."

Academically, Bolivar will graduate in four years this May with a degree in computer science and will pursue a career in programming.

"Sal has been a very strong student here," points out Axel. "And he's going to graduate in four years. In a few months, he's going to have five or six job offers - he'll have no issues finding a job. His mother calls sometimes and says 'thank-you for taking care of my son,', but I say 'no, thank-you', because he's been a pleasure and an honor to work with. He exemplifies everything in our program that we look for. I don't know where we'd be without him."

Bolivar and DiPietro are two in a long line of Norwalk natives to play lacrosse at Eastern, with as many as four McMahon products slated to join the program this coming fall.

Mark Vincent, a senior captain this year at Eastern, and junior Christian Leone, are also McMahon products on this year's roster. Both found a home at Eastern after initially attending college elsewhere right out of high school. The first McMahon graduate to excel at Eastern was defensive midfielder Dwayne Coles, a four-year player and All-New England selection in the early years of the program.

James "Cuta" Shaw, another recent McMahon graduate, was also planning to enroll at Eastern next year after attending community college, but was tragically killed by a motorist this past winter while crossing the highway on foot. In his memory, players on both the McMahon and Eastern teams have had his No. 41 affixed to the back of their helmets. "His death hit home to everyone who knew him," says Axel. "We all wanted to honor him in some way."

Epstein indicated that the McMahon-Eastern relationship began back in the mid-1990s -- when the Warriors were under the direction of  Rick McCarthy - and has continued during Axel's tenure. Epstein felt that both Eastern head coaches took a personal interest in the welfare of his former players. "I trust my kids with Justin right now more than almost anyone in the country," says Epstein. "He's just that kind of person - regardless of what kind of lacrosse coach he is, and he's a very good lacrosse coach. He cares about my kids and I want my kids to go and play for someone who is going to care about them. Rick McCarthy did that for my kids, and Justin is doing that for my kids, and it's awesome.  "

Axel enjoys the relationship and feels that it thrives because both programs stress the same things.

"The student-athlete who are successful under Coach Epstein who come here are successful for us," points out Axel. "He goes above and beyond with his kids. Mike teaches them to do things the right way. He demands excellence out of them, he demands discipline out of them.

"Mike's been a nice advocate for our program, He knows what we, as a program, are preaching to our kids. He knows that it's not just about lacrosse with our guys, it's making sure that they have the tools to be successful. It's not about just getting by. It's about getting good grades, so that they are going to graduate and be successful. I really like the relationship that we've developed with McMahon."




Baseball: Warriors Roll Past Amherst

Darby (5-0) is backed by 15-hit attack as they win sixth in row, 7-2


AMHERST, Mass. -  Senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI) pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his career and the middle of the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball lineup  combined for 11 hits as the Warriors won their sixth straight, 7-2,over  Amherst College Wednesday afternoon.

At right: Tom Darby

The loss will be the only one of the regular season at home for Amherst (23-8), which had a 15-game regular-season home winning streak snapped. Eastern (28-9) equaled its longest winning streak of the season and has captured 12 of its last 15. The Warriors  are ranked No. 21 in Division III and sixth in New England, Amherst No. 29 nationally and No. 7 in New England. Eastern is now 5-2 against teams ranked in this week's New England Coaches' Poll and improved to 18-5 away from home this year.

Eastern collected 15 hits  off five Amherst pitchers in support of Darby's fifth win this year without a loss. Darby, who has averaged 6+ innings in five starts, defeated his fourth straight regionally-ranked opponent by allowing only eight hits and one run with four strikeouts and two walks. In his previous three starts, Darby defeated No. 1 Wheaton, No. 3 Trinity and No. 8 Bridgewater State.

Senior Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA), and sophomores Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA), and Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) each had three hits for Eastern. Cammuso drove in two runs as did sophomore T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA), who had two hits and scored twice. Cammuso hit safely in his 17th straight game to push his batting average over .300 to .301.

Eastern Connecticut loaded the bases in the second but would not get on the board until pushing three runs across in the third, as they strung together five singles in a span of six batters. Dylan Driscoll '14 retired the Warriors in order in the fourth, but they got back to work when Larivee ignited a one-out rally with a double that led to two more runs and a 5-0 ECSU lead.

After Larivee's second RBI of the day made it a 6-0 game in the top of the sixth, the Jeffs came up inches short of their first run when Cammuso reached over the fence in left field to rob Kevin Heller '12 of a homer. Heller hit the ball hard enough to clear the fence for what would have broken Amherst's career home run record (18), but Cammuso braced himself on the fence with his right hand and made the impressive catch with his left.

Cammuso then led off the seventh with a single up the middle and came around to score the Warriors' seventh run on a groundout. Amherst chased Darby from the game in the eighth after three consecutive singles were followed by a walk, with Cook putting the Jeffs on the board by lacing a base hit back up the middle.

With the bases still loaded in the eighth, sophomore Pat Barnett (Windsor) got Eastern  out of the jam by picking up a strikeout before an Amherst runner was thrown out at home while trying to score on a passed ball. The Jeffs made it a 7-2 game in the ninth when Brendon Hardin '15 came home on a single to center by Alex Hero '14, but they would close the game with runners stranded on second and third after Barnett recorded another strikeout.

Driscoll (4-1), a sophomore righty, picked up his first loss of the season by surrendering five runs on 12 hits--11 singles--in the first 4.1 innings. Amherst's bullpen gave up only three hits the rest of the way, with Adam Medoff '13 pitching a perfect eighth inning and Dylan Joyce '12 retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Eastern closes out the regular season Friday with a noon doubleheader at the University of Southern Maine. Unofficially, a sweep gives Eastern no worse than a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 conference tournament  seed.


W-Lax: Warriors Alive in LEC Playoffs

Ibsen's save as time expires lifts them to 11-10 win over RIC

wlaxlec72dpi_0599.jpgMANSFIELD, Conn. - In the first round of the Little East Conference women's lacrosse playoffs Tuesday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.. Rhode Island College came about as close as it has ever come to defeating Eastern Connecticut State University.

Above Eastern'sAlexa Foldy (far left) and Erin Conn (20) chase Rhode Island's Molly Voyer in the first half of Tuesday's 11-10 win over the Anchorwomen. (Josh Dubinsky photo)

Seeded sixth among six teams in the playoffs, Rhode Island (4-11) battled third-seeded Eastern (12-6) in a match which featured five ties before the Warriors emerged with an 11-10 victory that pushed them into the LEC semifinals Friday at second-seeded Keene State College at 4 p.m. The defending playoff champion Owls drew a first-round bye. In Friday's other semifinal, No. 1 seed Plymouth State University will host fifth-seeded Western Connecticut, which eliminated fourth-seeded University of Southern Maine Tuesday, 12-10.

Against Eastern, senior attack Nicky Drolet scored three successive goals I a six-minute span late in the game to give the Anchorwomen a 10-9 before the Warriors got strikes from former high school teammates Christina Rully (Orange) and Daniela Marchitto (Orange), both junior midfielders to post their 13th win over Rhode Island in as many series matches. Eastern had come away with a 14-7 victory at Mansfield in the LEC opener for both schools a month ago.

Eastern senior goalie Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton) prevented the sixth tie of the match and certain overtime when she snagged a breakaway attempt by Rhode Island freshman attack Jessica Ricci as time expired. It appeared that Eastern would run out the clock when it had possession near midfield in the final seconds, but the Warriors turned the ball over when junior midfielder Courtney McKiernan picked up a ground ball and passed to sophomore attack Ashley Signoriello. Signoriello found an unmarked Ricci ahead of the field with a perfect lead pass in the final seconds. Ricci fired an uncontested shot from close range but Ibsen was equal to the bid, collecting the eye-level attempt  as time ran out.

Neither team led by more than three goals and Easetrn did not take its first lead until four minutes remained in the first half. With the Warriors down by one, senior attack Ashley Prizio (Brookfield) - last year's LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year - and sophomore attack Erin Conn (Moriches, NY) scored three goals three minutes apart to give the hosts a 7-5 halftime lead.

An unassisted goal by  Eastern sophomore midfielder Alexa Foldy (Brookfield) made it 9-6 Eastern ten minutes into the second half and the Warriors maintained a slight edge until Drolet scored three straight  to give her team a 10-9 lead with 8:30 left.

Former high school teammates Foldy and Prizio each had three goals for Eastern and Ibsen made six saves.Drolet led the Anchorwomen with six goals and an assist and Signoriello scored three. Senior midfielder Jenna Childs won five draws and McKiernan came off the bench for five ground balls. Eastern sophomore midfielder Taylor Shannon (Waterford) won nine of 17 draws after taking only 22 all season long and also picked up four ground balls. Prizio won five draws and Rully led the Warriors with five ground balls.  Rhode Island sophomore goalie Taryn Carbone  made eight saves, five in the second half.


Little East Cites Two from Eastern

Rathbun (softball), Sullinger (m-lacrosse) recognized again with awards

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Rathbun (far left), Sullinger

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -  Eastern Connecticut State University seniors Molly Rathbun (Hebron) of the softball program and Michael Sullinger (Brookfield) of the men's lacrosse program have been recognized by the Little East Conference in its weekly awards program.

Rathbun was selected as Pitcher-of-the-Week for the sixth consecutive week while Sullinger, an attackman, was tabbed as Offensive Player-of-the-Week for the third time in the last five weeks.

Rathbun (25-1) won all five games for the Warriors last weeks as clinched their third straight Little East regular-season title with sweeps of Western Connecticut and Southern Maine. Rathbun. allowed one earned run on nine hits in 25.1 innings to post a minuscule 0.28 earned run average this past week. She threw her ninth career no-hitter against Wesleyan on April 26. Rathbun reached double figures in strikeouts twice.

A three-time All-America and two-time LEC Pitcher-of-the-Year and LEC tournament MVP, Rathbun leads the conference in virtually every pitching category. She also leads Division III in earned run average and shutouts and is second in least hits allowed per seven innings, third in strikeouts per game, fourth in total strikeouts, and fifth in wins.

Prior to the start of Thursday's LEC tournament hosted by Eastern, Rathbun had a 0.32 ERA with 247 strikeouts and 21 walks in 153.0 innings with 18 complete games and 12 shutouts in 32 starts and four saves. Opponents are hitting .108 against Rathbun, who has won her last 24 decisions and is 95-12 with 14 saves and a 0.81 ERA and 1,038 strikeouts in her career.

Top-seeded Eastern (36-1), which completed the first undefeated regular season in LEC softball history this past year with 14 victories, faces No. 6 Massachusetts Boston in the opening round of the six-team, double-elimination conference tournament Thursday at noon.

A second-team All-LEC performer last year, Sullinger recorded 14 points, on seven goals and seven assists in last week's two LEC wins to help Eastern clinch the top seed in the upcoming Little East men's lacrosse playoffs. Sullinger registered a season-high ten points, including a season-best seven markers, to power the Warriors past UMass Boston in their regular-season finale that wrapped up the program's eighth undefeated regular-season championship in 12 years. Earlier in the week, Sullinger found the back of the net four times against Western Connecticut.

In seven LEC regular-season matches this year, Sullinger is ranked in a tie for second in assists per game, is third in goals per game and points per game and is fourth in extra-man goals per game.

Sullinger leads Eastern this year in points (63) and assists (26) and is second in goals (37) and shot percentage (.474). In 57 career matches, he has 158 points on 84 goals and 74 assists.

A winner of its final five regular-season matches this year, top-seeded Eastern hosts an LEC playoff semifinal match Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday's opening round game between No. 4 Massachusetts Dartmouth and No. 5 University of Southern Maine.

In this spring's LEC weekly awards program, Eastern athletes have totaled 21 awards. Softball has totaled nine and  men's lacrosse eight to lead the way.


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