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December 2012 Archives

The Aconfora Report: W-Basketball

 By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

forsman_72_7864.jpgAfter a layoff of 3-plus weeks, the women's basketball team kicks off the 2013 portion of its  schedule at the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic Tuesday and Wednesday at Blake Arena on the Springfield College campus.

At left: Kristina Forsman

Head coach Denise Bierly and her squad will start off the tournament Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Bridgewater State University in the second of two first-round games. Playing their fifth straight road game, the Warriors enter the game with a record of 2-7, 1-4 away from Geissler Gym. Despite playing only one home game, Bridgewater is 6-2, having compiled a 6-1 record away from the Tinsley Center. The Bears are coming off consecutive 19-8 seasons and NCAA tournament appearances.

It has been a lot of sophomores Shannon McCourt and Kristina Forsman through the early part of the season as Eastern came into this year with another team that is extremely young. McCourt leads Eastern in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (8.4) while Forsman averages exactly 12 points with a team-leading ten three-point field goals.

Another sophomore, Taylor McBride, averages three points a game, but has opportunities to score often, but has yet to take advantage of those chances. McBride has a strong point guard mentality, which often leads to her dishing the ball off instead of taking an open lane. I look for McBride to open up her game a bit more in this matchup. Freshmen Jill Ritrosky (5.2 ppg.) and Brianna Leonard (8.0) have had big roles so far this season and continue to learn.

With only one six-footer (freshman Brittany Deely), Bridgewater State, on paper. seems to matchup perfectly with Eastern. The Bears have four players who score in double digits, led by  senior Michaela Cosby. The 5-foot-5 inch guard averages right under 14 points a game and her quickness and ability to get to the basket makes her dangerous. McCourt will have a tough task in guarding 5-foot- 9 inch junior Megan Boutilette who averages 13 points and 8 rebounds a game.

Key for BSU - Shut down  McCourt. If the Bears can take McCourt out of the game, then Eastern will need to find someone other than Forsman to score the ball. They have had trouble all season finding that other player, so BSU will most likely take advantage.

Keys for Eastern - If the Warriors hope to stretch their winning streak against Bridgewater to ten, they must spread the wealth and get players open. Many times, Eastern will let the shot clock run to long and cannot get an open shot or a good look. They must set off-ball screens to get their guards open. Also, Eastern must spread the wealth and not rely on two players offensively. They need other players to step up and take advantage of any mismatches they may have.

Depending upon Tuesday's outcome, Eastern will play either Swarthmore College or Springfield College Wednesday in either the consolation game (1 p.m.) or championship game (3 p.m.).

Swarthmore (7-0) is having a very good season so far and would probably be the tougher matchup for the Warriors. Uncharacteristically, Springfield (1-7) on the other hand is struggling this season, which is shocking to many since they have always had a fairly good program (five NCAA appearances in a six-year stretch ending in 2006). Whomever Eastern ends up playing, its key will be the same as the one in the first game vs. BSU. They must get better looks and find other players to score.


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Men's Basketball: Warrior Wrap-Up

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

gator72dpi.JPGThe Warriors flew south to Miami with their heads held high after a big win on the road vs. Bob Walsh and Rhode Island College on December 8 to participate in the Adidas Holiday Slam against Buffalo State College and Messiah College just before Christmas. 

Before it began its games, the team took some time to bond as it visited Gator Park in Miami. The trip gave the team a chance to get closer and have some fun as well. Brandon Yarborough brought some laughs to everyone as he held one of the gators in the picture above. 

It was time to get down to business as Eastern opened up against Buffalo State College. As I mentioned in the game preview, Eastern would have to play great defense vs. this offensive powered Buffalo State team. Unfortunately it's easier said than done as the Bengals had three players (Roderick Epps, Anyar Majak and Jake Simmons) combine for 72 points and won the game 89-85. Anyar Majak scored a game high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, as he was the player of the game. I mentioned in the preview for this game that Majak would be the x-factor, but he turned out to be much more than that as he outscored both Epps and Simmons and caused many problems in the paint defensively for Eastern.

On the other side, Eastern had some good things to take out of the opening game. Mike Garrow continued his great play in his junior season as he dropped a team high 22 points and senior Chris Robitaille was second in team scoring with 17 points. As said in the game preview, Yarborough would be the X-factor and it turned out that he was. Yarborough scored 10 points as he finished 5-5 from the field and grabbed 5 rebounds. One of the bigger story lines was the constant improvement of freshman guard Trachone Preston as he added 15 points.

Game No. 2 came as Eastern took on the Falcons of Messiah College. I did not foresee Eastern having any problems in this game and they would come away with a win. It doesn't always work out the way you expect it to as the Warriors lost a nailbiter in overtime, 72-71.

Preston did all that he could to give Eastern one win down in Miami as he scored 24 points with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Brian Salzillo scored 13 as he shot 3-7 beyond the arc. Two other Warriors scored double digits, although Garrow was not one of them. As mentioned before, Garrow dropped 22 points in the Buffalo State game, so the Falcons really locked him down only allowing him to take six shots and finish with two points. Messiah College had two players (Derek Mosley and Taylor Groff) that finished with double doubles. Mosley showed his inside and outside game as he knocked down four three's and scored 23 while snagging down 11 rebounds. The shorter guard, Zac Hoy, finished with 10 points while dishing out 8 assists.

The trip to Miami for the Warriors was an upsetting one as they lost two games by only a combined five points. Although Eastern was disappointed with its losses down south, there is so much they can build on from the games. Garrow, Joe Ives, and Robitaille showed their leadership and ability to keep their team in the game. Yarborough keeps improving this season as he is becoming a better offensive player. Most importantly, The Warriors seem to have a star in the making in Preston as he averaged 19.5 points in the two games. Preston will be a vital part of another conference title and NCAA tournament appearance for the Warriors this season.





Eastern Athletics Weekly Airs Friday


aconfora72dpi_1048.jpgmccourt_72_7923.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A  half-hour segment of Eastern Athletics Weekly will air Friday, Dec. 28 from noon to 12:30 p.m. on with studio host Nick Aconfora.

Aconfora will review last week's men's basketball games at the Adidas Holiday Slam in Miami and look ahead to this weekend's basketball games featuring the women at the Naismith Classic at Springfield College Tuesday and Wednesday and the men at the Sponaugle New Year Tournament, hosted by Franklin & Marshall College Wednesday and Thursday.

At right: Shannon McCourt

The women open the tournament against Bridgewater State University at 3 p.m. and the men face Salisbury University at 6 p.m. in their tournament opener.

The Eastern women are led by sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) and senior guard Samantha Riccio (Avon), with guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) and forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) among several impact freshmen.  

The women have dropped six of eight this year, but two of the losses have come against nationally-ranked teams in Emmanuel College and Amherst College, one to a team which received votes in the most recent national poll (SUNY New Paltz) and one to 19-time Little East Conference tournament champion University of Southern Maine.

preston_72_6826.jpgEastern has beaten Bridgewater (6-2) the last nine times the teams have met, most recently in 2003/04. The Bears are coming off consecutive 19-8 campaigns and NCAA tournament appearances. The Bears have split contests this year with Little East teams Rhode Island College (63-54 loss) and Western Connecticut (69-62 win).

In its last contest Dec. 8 and only home game to date, Bridgewater gave up 14 straight points and dropped a one-point decision to unbeaten and No. 10 nationally-ranked Tufts University.

At left: Trachone Preston

In the other first-round women's tournament game, Springfield has lost seven of eight this year, while Swarthmore is unbeaten in seven games. The Garnet also received votes in the most recent national poll.

The Eastern men (6-4)  boost four double-digit scorers in junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville), junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven), senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and senior guard Joe Ives (Avon).

Garrow averages 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds, Salzillo 14.6 points with 30 three-point field goals, Robitaille 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds and Ives 11.5 points and 3.1 assists.

Freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) and sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford)  started both games last week in Miami. Preston averages 9.9 points and is shooting .543 from three-point range and .870 from the stripe while Yarborough averages 4.7 poiints and 6.7 rebounds in an average of less than 23 minutes.

The Eastern men lost two games by a total of five points -- one in overtime -- last Friday and Saturday at Miami.

There were 14 ties in the 89-85 loss to Buffalo State last Friday but the Warriors missed four of their last five shots as their three-game winning streak came to a halt. Garrow recorded his third straight 20-point game against Buffalo, finishing one point shy of his career-high. Preston's career-high 24 points against Messiah were the third-most by an Eastern player this year and gave him double figures for the fourth straight time since moving into the starting lineup five games ago.

In the two tournament games, Preston led Eastern with 39 points, Robitaille adding 31 points and a team-high 17 rebounds, Garrow 24 points and 12 rebounds.  Preston, Robitaille and Yarborough all shot at least 50 percent from the floor, with Preston going 9-for-17 (.529) from three-point range and Ives converting 7 of 9 free throws.

Salisbury (9-3) is off to one of its best starts in recent years, having captured nine of its first ten games before dropping its last two by a total of 55 points. (Its most recent loss Friday, however, came by a score of 82-49 to Division I William & Mary).

The Warriors and Gulls have never met, although Eastern played on Salisbury's home court in the second round of the 1992 NCAA tournament against New Jersey City University.

Senior guard Travon Vann leads Salisbury with a scoring average of 21.3 (13th best in Division III) and 8.3 rebounding average and also shoots .837 from the foul line. Junior guard Tim Harwood averages 13.1 points, shooting .406 from three-point range and is sixth in Division III with a free throw percentage of .949. Senior center Trent Epps averages 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds and shoots .621 from the floor (he has not averaged enough made field goals to qualify for the national rankings).

In the other first-round men's tournament game, Franklin & Marshall (8-1) meets SUNY Plattsburgh (7-2). F&M is ranked No. 8 nationally and is coming off its first loss of the season Dec. 19, 86-73, against Transylvania. The Dips have won at least 20 games in four straight seasons, including a record 28 wins against three losses en route to an NCAA Elite 8 appearance a year ago. Plattsburgh has won three in a row and has also defeated Little East Conference pre-season favorite Keene State College, 70-64, Dec. 4 at Keene, NH(withstanding 35 points by Keene's Ryan Martin).







The Aconfora Report: Men's Basketball

Warriors need win over Messiah Saturday for split at Holiday Slam


By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

After their opening 89-85 loss in the Adidas Holiday Slam Friday in Miami to Buffalo State College, the Warriors (6-3) will take on the Falcons of Messiah College (5-4) Saturday at 5 p.m.

At left: Joe Ives

Messiah ended a two-game losing streak Friday with a 76-58 win over Medaille College (a team which Eastern defeated by 15 points in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament). Eastern had a three-game winning streak come to a halt.

Unlike Buffalo State, Messiah  has a more well-rounded team. It does have three players in Brad Bolen, Derek Mosley, and Taylor Groff who average double digits in scoring, but they often share the wealth. The Falcons also play very scrappy defense as they have 60 steals as a team this season, 25 more than Eastern.

I expect Joe Ives, the senior guard for the Warriors, to come out aggressive offensively as he will most likely be guarded by Zac Hoy, a 5-9 sophomore. Ives is listed as 6-1 and has a height advantage against Hoy which could lead to easy buckets throughout for Ives. I see Brian Salzillo having a big game here as he'll look to get himself open and knock down the three-ball throughout. I don't foresee Eastern having many problems defensively as there isn't a player on the Falcons who is a pure scorer.

Keys for MC - Play great defense and knock down the three point shot, there's not much more to it. Eastern has a variety of ways to score and if the Falcons can find a way to shut down a few of their options and hit the three ball, Messiah can grab a big victory.

MC X-Factor - #1 Zac Hoy may only be 5-9, but he averages around nine points a game. Hoy will be guarded by Ives and freshman Trachone Preston, but must find a way to score more often. If so, the Falcons have a good chance of winning this game.

Keys for Eastern - Play the in-and-out game. Eastern must work the ball inside to 6-foot-5 inch Chris Robitaille and the other bigs. If the defense decides to collapse, kick it back out to the guards to knock down the three. Eastern has always done a great job with its inside-out game and shouldn't have any issues vs. the Falcons.

Eastern X-Factor - I expect both #20 Preston and #14 Ives to get by the guards of MC and penetrate to the basket often. If help on the defense comes, they will be sure to have an easy dump-off pass to one of the bigs for an easy lay-in.

The Aconfora Report: Men's Basketball

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

gator72dpi.JPGIt's been another cold end to the first semester at Eastern Connecticut State University, but the men's basketball team looks to stay hot as  it flies south to Miami to compete in the Adidas Holiday Slam against Buffalo State College and Messiah College.

Above: As his teammates provide moral support, sophomore Brandon Yarborough has his hands full with a three-foot gator during the team's visit to Miami's Gator Park in the Florida Everglades. The Warriors will have their hands full Friday at 3 p.m. when they tackle highly-regarded Buffalo State College in Miami in the first of two games in two days. (Photo courtesy of William Geitner).

The first appearance for Eastern following a two-week layoff the Buffalo State Bengals comes  Friday at 3 p.m. in a game scheduled to be played at Florida Christian School. It will be the first appearance ever between the two clubs.

Jake Simmons of Buffalo State recently broke the program's all-time scoring record as he passed former Bengal and NBA player Randy Smith. Simmons has averaged 20 points a game in the 2012-2013 campaign. On the other side, Eastern lost its all-time leading scorer in Nick Nedwick, but the Warriors have a lot of fire power offensively.

In the final weeks of the first semester, the freshman Trachone Preston has been electric. With his quick moves off the dribble, his pure shot from three, and his aggressive defense, Preston is sure to be an integral part of this game. Mike Garrow and Tyler Hundley will have their hands full as I am sure each of them will matchup against the big 6-4 guard, Roderick Epps. Epps along with Simmons may cause some problems for the defense of the Warriors. It is sure to be a high scoring game as long as Eastern can keep up with the offensive sided Bengals.

Keys for Buffalo State - Jake Simmons and Roderick Epps, do I say more? Simmons is averaging 20.7 points per game as Epps averages 25.3 points. Both of these scorers will try and take advantage of any mistakes the Warriors make defensively.

Buffalo State X-Factor - #35 6-foot-7 Anyar Majak averages 10.8 points a game and could be a threat to Eastern's own 6-foot-5 inch Chris Robitaille in the post.

Keys for Eastern - Joe Ives and Preston must be on their A game. With Simmons at guard, either Ives or Preston will have a mismatch that the Bengals will attempt to exploit.

Eastern X-Factor - #50 Brandon Yarborough may only be 6-3, but he plays as if he is three to four inches taller. Yarborough is able to out-rebound opponents who are bigger than he and he has a unique offensive skill set for the PF position. 

For complete tournament preview and update on Eastern athletics, go to the Recent Archives on and click on "Sports Talk: Eastern Athletics Weekly Holiday Edition" to view the half-hour show hosted by Nick Aconfora.

Eastern Athletics Weekly Airs Thursday



Host Nick Aconfora (right) chats with Chris Robitaille of the men's basketball team during the pre-season pep rally at Geissler Gym.


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A special half-hour segment of Eastern Athletics Weekly Holiday Edition will air Thursday beginning at noon on with studio host Nick Aconfora.

Aconfora will review the Eastern winter programs - men's and women's basketball, indoor track and women's swimming - and will look ahead to upcoming events during the holiday season.

The men's basketball team, coming off last year's appearance in the NCAA Division III Round of 16, returns to action a two-week layoff to compete in the Adidas Holiday Slam in Miami against Buffalo State College Friday at 3 p.m. and Messiah College Saturday at 5 p.m.

Heading into the first meeting ever against Buffalo State, the Warriors have won three straight, including a 76-68 Little East Conference road victory over Rhode Island College Dec. 8. Both teams are 6-2.

Buffalo is led by all-time scoring leader Jake Simmons, who combined with teammate Roderick Epps in a 101-98 home win over Central Penn College last Friday. Simmons scored 43 points and Epps 28 in that contest.

Messiah is 4-4 and faces Medaille College  Friday before facing Eastern on Saturday.
The Eastern women will shake off a three-week layoff when they face Bridgewater State University in the opening round of the Springfield College Naismith Classic Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 3 p.m. The Warriors will face either Springfield or Swarthmore College Wednesday.

Eastern has dropped six of eight this year, but two of the losses have come against nationally-ranked teams in Emmanuel College and Amherst College, one to a team which received votes in the most recent national poll (SUNY New Paltz) and one to 19-time Little East Conference tournament champion University of Southern Maine.

Eastern has beaten Bridgewater (6-2) the last nine times the teams have met, most recently in 2003/04. The Bears are coming off consecutive 19-8 campaigns and NCAA tournament appearances. The Bears have split contests this year with Little East teams Rhode Island College (63-54 loss) and Western Connecticut (69-62 win).

In its last contest Dec. 8 and only home game to date, Bridgewater gave up 14 straight points and dropped a one-point decision to unbeaten and No. 10 nationally-ranked Tufts University.

Springfield has lost seven of eight this year, while Swarthmore is unbeaten in seven games. The Garnet also received votes in the most recent national poll.

The women's swim team is also in action during the break, competing in the Bob Mowerson Meet Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatics Complex against a variety of Division I, II and III opponents. Last year's team placed tenth among 17 competing teams.

The Warriors return to official action Saturday, Jan. 12 by hosting Keene State College at 1 p.m.

The indoor track team is idle until the start of the spring semester, when it competes in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 19 at noon.

M-Soccer: Two Are Scholar All-Region

Munsell, Tobler are named to College Division All-East Team


Munsell (far left), Tobler

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  Eastern Connecticut State University senior soccer players Jordan Munsell (Waterford) and Cory Tobler (Portland) have been named to the 2012 NSCAA Men's College Division Scholar All-East Region Team. Munsell was a third-team selection at goalkeeper and Tobler an honorable mention pick at forward.

The two four-year letterwinners are among only three selections to the academic team from the Little East Conference.

Candidates must have reached junior status and must have compiled an overall cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 in their undergraduate work. Eleven players were chosen to the first, second and third teams and 126 were listed as honorable mention.

The East Region is comprised of four-year Division II and III institutions located in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Munsell has an overall 3.51 GPA as a Psychology major while Tobler has compiled a 3.86 GPA as a Health and Physical Education major.

Earlier this month, the team was awarded an NSCAA Team Academic Award as one of 226 member Division I, II and III member institutions - the only one from the Little East Conference -- to record an overall grade-point average of at least 3.00 for the 2011/12 academic year. Eastern's GPA was 3.03.

munsell 72_0797.jpgMunsell and Tobler's selections bring to six the number of NSCAA all-region scholar-athlete selections for Eastern in the last four years under sixth-year head coach Greg DeVito. Chris Bourdeau was named honorable mention in 2009, Maxim Fantl to the first team in 2009 and Carl Appel to the first team in 2010 and second team in 2011. Fantl went on to first-team NSCAA Scholar All-America recognition in 2009 and Appel to second-team All-America honors in 2010.

At right: Jordan Munsell

This year, only one goalkeeper was chosen to each of the first, second and third teams. Munsell was the highest-rated keeper from New England, with Peter Maxted from Division III Swarthmore (Pa.) and Marco Jorgensen from Division II LIU Post (NY) gaining first and second-team accolades, respectively.

In their careers, Munsell and Tobler have earned spots on the Little East Conference All-Academic Team (cumulative GPA of  3.30+) the maximum three times. Each was also awarded an E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award (cumulative GPA of 3.50+) in their first years of eligibility last May.


At left: Cory Tobler

This past fall, Munsell and Tobler each gained first-team All-Little East Conference recognition, with Munsell adding second-team NSCAA All-New England honors to his resume and participating in the New England Senior All-Star Game Nov. 25 at Harvard Stadium.

In his first season as a starter, Munsell started 19 matches in net and gained all 20 of the team's decision, playing all but 42 minutes and 20 seconds in net. He was the starting keeper in all nine of the team's shutouts, recording eight full shutouts and registering a 0.69 goals-against average and .829 save percentage. He led the LEC in GAA (by 0.36 percentage points), least goals allowed (14) and shutouts and was second in save percentage.

In 12 straight starts through the LEC playoff championship match, Munsell never surrendered more than one goal in a match, starting five matches in that span which ended in shutout, recording four full shutouts in the process. He compiled 533:53 scoreless minutes at one point in that stretch, beginning with a 1-1 overtime conference tie at Keene State College Oct. 6 and ending in a 1-0 overtime loss at Babson College Oct. 21 . Twice, he started both matches on consecutive days during the season, gaining shutouts on the first day both times and allowing one goal in the second match both times.

A two-time All-LEC selection in this career, Tobler set personal season-highs this year for goals (7) and points (20) and equaled his previous best mark for assists (6) en route to career totals of 22 goals, 19 assists and 63 points. Four of Tobler's goals this season were game-winners and came against LEC opponents. He totaled ten game-winners in his career.

This year, Tobler was second on the team in points and assists and tied for second in goal and was one of only two players in the conference to rank among the top five in goals and assists. In the Little East, Tobler was fourth in points, tied for fourth in assists and was fifth in goals and tied for second in game-winners.

Eastern set a program record for victories this year with a final 17-2-1 record, opening the season with a 15-match unbeaten streak (14-0-1) and recording the program's second undefeated (6-0-1) regular season in 24 years of conference play. The Warriors won their third LEC regular season and playoff title and qualified for their sixth straight post-season tournament and finished fourth in the final NSCAA New England poll and 24th in the final NSCAA regular-season national ratings.




W-Volleyball: Wilson First-Team All-ECAC

Senior becomes program's first first-team All-NE pick in 14 years

wilson_head_72_0121.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University  senior women's volleyball player Katie Wilson (Pittsburg, CA) has become the first member of the program to earn All-New England honors from the ECAC when she was selected to the first team today.

A 6-foot-2 inch middle hitter, Wilson becomes the program's first first-team All-New England pick by either the ECAC or New England Women's Volleyball Assocation (NEWVA) since E-Club Hall-of-Fame setter Michelle Cunningham repeated as a first-team NEWVA selection in 1998 in her fourth season on the team.

A total of 13 players were named to the ECAC team - seven to the first team and six to the second - with an Offensive Player-of-the-Year and Rookie-of-the-Year also chosen. The team was selected by a vote of the volleyball coaches or their designee from the ECAC Division III New England membership.

Wilson was the only middle hitter chosen to either the first or second team and was among four honorees from the Little East Conference.

Last month, Wilson was chosen to the NEWVA Senior Classic and was also a first-team all-star to the Little East Conference all-conference team.

A three-year letterwinner at Eastern after transferring from the Division II level, Wilson ranked third in NCAA Division III with an average of 5.40 points per set and 11th with an average of 4.21 kills per set. She led the conference in points (626.5) and points per set, kills (488) and kills per set, was second in attack percentage (.302), and tied for fifth in service aces per set (0.53).

Wilson concluded her Eastern career as one of eight players all-time with at least 1,000 kills (8th/1,007) and ranked fifth all-time in attack percentage (.286). She became only the second player in program history with as many as 1,000 kills and 100 block solos (107).

Wilson totaled at least 20 kills in five of the last six matches of her career, attacking at .346 in that final stretch, averaging 52 attempts per match, and posting a career-high 30 kills Oct. 20 against Salve Regina University.

 Behind  Wilson, Eastern won 19 and lost 14 and qualified for its first post-season tournament since 2007 with a berth in the ECAC New England Division III Tournament.


Seitz Donates Name, Time to Cause

group2_8x10_72dpi_9006.jpgclinic72dpi_8808.jpgCampers and clinicians gathered at the conclusion of the free soccer clinic staged Monday night by the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team and Major League Soccer's FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz (at center in back in above photo) at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. A bone marrow donor, Seitz joined with the Eastern community for its second bone marrow drive in two months held at Eastern to support Eastern senior soccer player Jon DeCasanova. DeCasanova was diagnosed with aplastic anemia this past summer. Seitz spent the day at Eastern after flying in from Dallas. He assisted in the organization of the clinic and signed autographs for the 50 youngsters in attendance. Anyone wishing to help defray the costs of Jon DeCasasnova's treatment should contact Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at 860-465-4334.For a copy of the above photo, contact Bob Molta at

MLS's Seitz To Assist at Marrow Drive

High-profile bone marrow donor here Monday to promote drive

By Jason Tierinni/Sports Information Staff


setiz head72.jpg

Chris Seitz (left)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- In 2005, Chris Seitz was the starting goalkeeper for the University of Maryland, and became the first freshman goal keeper to lead his team to the College Cup Title in 15 years.  He stopped three shots in the Division I NCAA championship game against New Mexico, including an important penalty shot in the 50th minute of the game en route to a 1-0 win.  At that point in his life, saving that penalty shot and preserving the win for his team was Seitz's biggest save of his life. 

At right: Jon DeCasanova displays his "One Team, One Goal" t-shirt. Anyone wishing to purchase a shirt to help defray DeCasanova's medical expenses can call head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at 860-465-4334.

After saving someone's life by donating his bone marrow,  that save in the national championship game pales in comparison.

On Monday, Seitz - now a professional goalkeeper with FC Dallas of Major League Soccer - continues to do his part in the hopes of saving many more lives. The 25-year-old San Luis Obispo, Calif. native is scheduled to be on campus Monday to provide added exposure with the bone marrow drive - the second in six weeks sponsored by the Eastern men's soccer program - at the Eastern Sports Center from 2 to 7 p.m. 

Seitz, who will arrive Monday morning and depart Tuesday, will be the featured attraction when Eastern sponsors  a free soccer skills clinic for youngsters ages 7-12 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Geissler Gymnasium. The skills clinic will be followed by autographs and pictures with Seitz and  Eastern soccer players. 

Seitz will be at Eastern to help find a match for anyone  in need of a bone marrow and all of us at Eastern hope that a match can be found for senior soccer player Jon DeCasanova of Glastonbury, a four-year member of the program who has been hospitalized since early September after being diagnosed with aplastic anemia.  

Seitz, who has saved a life donating bone marrow, has a very unique story.  According to Seitz the story goes like this: "I played for Real Salt Lake for three years and in the second season with them my teammate Andy Williams' wife was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  A bunch of teammates on the team went to a DKMS bone marrow registry to get swabbed in support of Andy Williams' wife. I didn't hear anything for three to four years but I eventually got a call. I found out that I was the best match for someone out there. "


With the support of Chris Seitz, Eastern is hoping for a comparable turnout to its previous bone marrow drive in October, when over 500 members of the Eastern and surrounding communities joined the registry.

Over the summer, Seitz donated bone marrow to a recipient, putting his soccer career on hold even with knowing he did not have a guaranteed contract with his current team. All Seitz knows about the recipient at this point is that the individual accepted his cells and is out of the hospital. Privacy rights prevent the disclosure of additional information.

Seitz said about donating bone marrow, "It's definitely something I am going to look back on with a big smile.  It's all about spreading the word out there.  It's one of those things where you have an opportunity to do something and if you really believe in it and it's something you really want to do you are going to end up going through with it.  It was just something for me that made complete sense.  I was very lucky to have an organization (FC Dallas) that backed me 100 percent through it all."

When asked what it was like to save someone's life Seitz replied, "I don't really look at it like that. I look at it like hoping to give someone a second opportunity. Everyone has a family member or a friend or someone that they know that is fighting something like this. I like to think that everyone would do this for their, uncle, brother or cousin or sister if possible. "

Seitz who was presented the 2012 MLS Humanitarian Award for his selfless act said, "By no means did I think I was going to win it or anything like that. It is an awesome award. To be up for it was awesome and to win it was even more special."

Seitz' deed was documented on ESPN's television show Outside the Lines, which Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito watched after DeCasanova was diagnosed.  Devito then brought it to the attention of  new Eastern Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Konin, a nationally-recognized expert in the field of sports medicine and athletic training.

As it turned out, Konin is a long-time colleague and friend of FC Dallas head athletic trainer Skylar Richards. Through Richards, Konin inquired of Seitz' availability to fly to Eastern for the day to bring attention to the drive.

Said DeVito of Seitz, "Chris was more than agreeable to come out and do whatever he can to help the cause." Said Konin said of Seitz, "We want to make sure he understands we appreciate his time and we hope that he gets a chance to interact with as many people as possible that he can influence in a positive way."

For his part, Seitz noted that "anytime you get an opportunity like this to help out an organization and try and get the word out there is huge.  It is always an awesome experience to meet new people. We hope to try and get as many people as possible out to try and find a match for someone."

Coincidentally, Seitz  has an uncle who is in the recovery process after receiving a bone marrow transplant from Setiz' father, Michael.  When informed of DeCasanova's plight, Seitz indicated that "it really hit home for me. I have come to realize how big of a part of my life being a bone marrow donor has become and I will do anything I can to help promote people coming out and getting swabbed."

After high school, Seitz played two seasons at the University of Maryland, where he was named College Cup Defensive MVP Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive-Player-of-the-Year Award during the Terps' national title run. In 2007, he was the first goalkeeper selected in the MLS Super Draft when chosen by Real Salt Lake. 

 decasanova 72_9246.jpg

Initially last summer, doctors were unable to determine the cause of DeCasanova's problems  before determining that it was aplastic anemia. After Eastern got news of DeCasanova's condition, it started right away on what was to become the second-largest bone marrow drive on a college campus according to the Be The Match organization. "The first bone marrow drive in October was an unbelievable experience," said Konin, of the drive which brought more than 500 new candidates to the registry.

At right: Jon DeCasanova was a three-year starter for the Warriors prior to falling ill this past summer.

Coach Devito said, "It's not just about Jon, and Jon realizes that was well. Other people are being helped in the process." 

Everyone seems to be helping out with finding DeCasanova a match and with helping others out.  In recent months, the mothers of three Eastern soccer players have organized and run bone marrow drives in the New England area as did Eastern soccer alumnus Mark Landers, DeCasanova's high school coach.

Devito explained that the Eastern soccer program  put in over 125 man-hours helping out with the last drive, but it was also members of the other athletic teams at Eastern that stepped up and pitched in to help with the drive.     

Monday's drive is being held to help raise awareness across the state about becoming a donor, and educating people about giving bone marrow in hopes that people will register and get swabbed. 

According to Devito, DeCasanova was transported  to Boston this past Wednesday on December to undergo a stem cell transplant scheduled to begin Dec. 11. If all goes well with the transplant,  the stem cells will take over his DNA and hopefully 'reset' his bone marrow, platelets and blood count.  As part of the process, DeCasanova will undergo chemotherapy and  radiation.

"He is excited about it," said DeVito.  "He is staying strong. He's been in the hospital for three-plus months straight.  I have a lot of respect for him. He is a tough kid.  It's amazing how he wakes up every day and maintains a positive attitude."






Track: Three Records Set at Yale Invite

Cattanach, McElveen and 4x800m relay break records for Warriors


Eastern women's results.pdf

Eastern men's results.pdf

NEW HAVEN - Sophomore Lee Cattanach (New London) broke his second record in as many weeks, junior Akaya McElveen (New Haven) broke a ten-year mark and the women's 4x800 meter relay established a new record in its first try for the Eastern Connecticut State University men's and women's indoor track teams at the Yale University Invitational Saturday at Coxe Cage.

At left: Akaya McElveen

After breaking Pat Dennen's nine-year-old record at 5000 meters in his first try at that distance in the season-opener Dec. 1, Cattanach broke  Dennen's ten-year mark in the 3000 by four seconds iin his first try at that distance Saturday with a time of  9:03.65.

Running the 500 for the third time in her career, McElveen  chopped just under two seconds off the ten-year-old record set by Beth Littlefield at the ECAC Division III Championships in 2003. McElveen was timed in 1:20.52 Saturday.

Running together for the first time, the 4x800  relay  was clocked in 10:14.47, knocking nearly eight seconds off the previous mark which was established in February of 2003 at the New England Division III Championships. Combining for the record were junior Katie France (Portland), sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) and freshmen Chelsea Morsey (East Hampton) and Kylie McCartney (Manchester).


At left: Lee Cattanach

Qualifying for the New England Division III Championships in mid-February were junior  Fredrick Hewett (New London) at 200 meters, sophomore Luisantonio Rosado (Ponce, PR) in the 60 hurdles and Nikki Chambers in the 500 (Chambers missed breaking the Eastern record by .02).Hewett was timed in 22.85 in the 200, qualifying for post-season in his third event (60 and 400 previously) in two weeks. Rosado was clocked at 9.02 in the finals and Nikki Chambers in 1:22.37.

Top finishes for the men  in the non-scoring meet were Hewett, who was sixth in a field of 35 in the 60 and eighth among 51 in the 200, junior Mark Jolley (East Berlin), who was second in a field of eight in the high jump, sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington), who was eighth in a field of 26 in the long jump and eighth among 23 in the 400, sophomore Andre Reynolds (Hartford), who was fifth among 16 in the 60 hurdles, and Rosado (eighth in the 60 hurdles).

mccartney_relay_72_8710.jpgFor the women, McElveen's record-breaking time in the 500 was good enough for fifth in a field of 16 and Chambers was sixth; freshman Shanique Bunsie (Bridgeport) placed fourth in a field of 17 in the shot put and eighth among 15 in the weight, and freshman Samone Jones-McCarthy (Windham) was seventh in the shot.

At left: Kylie McCartney

A total of 20 individual personal bests were established in the meet, with senior Ryan Franklin (Glastonbury), sophomore Christopher Brown (Hartford) and freshman Kyle Bolden (South Windsor) all setting bests in the long jump, freshmen Joe Mott (Chaplin) and Mitchell Brusseau (Niantic) in the pole vault, and junior Tacia Bryant (Guilford) and freshman Sherry Gilronan (Darien) in the 60.

Eastern competes in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Invitational Jan. 19 at noon.

M-Basketball: Quick Start Dooms RIC

Behind Garrow, Warriors dump No. 14 Anchormen for first LEC victory

garrow_zoom72_6845.jpgPROVIDENCE, R.I.--  Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) scored 12 of his 14 points as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team shot  67 percent  from the field in the first half on the way to a 76-68 Little East Conference victory over No. 14 nationally-ranked Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon at the Murray Center.

At left: Mike Garrow

The win is the third in a row for Eastern (6-2, 1-1 LEC) and third in the last four games against Rhode Island (7-2, 1-1 LEC), which has lost its last two after claiming its first seven. Among its wins was a 68-44 triumph Nov. 29 over MIT, ranked No. 1 nationally at the time. Eastern defeated RIC 82-60 in the championship game of last year's Little East tournament.

Senior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) led the Warriors with 22 points and five rebounds, while Ives and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) totaled 14 points each. Sophomore guard BrandonYarborough (Stamford) contributed ten points and a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals, while senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) dished out a team-high five assists to go along with seven points and six boards.

Senior guard Tahrike Carter finished with a career-high 22 points for the hosts, sinking eight of 16 field field goals, but the other four starters managed just 2-for-20 from the floor and were guilty of more turnovers (7) than points (6).

"Eastern Connecticut played with an intensity edge that we just couldn't match," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. "Give them credit. They were prepared for the level you need to play at to win Little East games and we were not."

Eastern jumped out to a 10-4 lead at the 16:19 mark of the first half, capped by a three-pointer from Preston. The Warriors built on the momentum by outscoring the hosts, 10-6 over the next 3:30 to increase their advantage to 20-10 with 12:49 remaining.

With RIC down by seven points, 24-17, at 7:24, Carter  started the Anchormen on the comeback trail with a layup that keyed an 8-0 run. Back-to-back three-pointers by junior guard Mike Palumbo gave the Anchormen a 28-24 lead at 4:38.

Ives drained a clutch longball, which was followed by a Robitaille layup and a free throw by Yarborough to put the Warriors up by a pair, 32-30, at 2:00. Free throws by RIC senior center Steven Robert  briefly tied the game, but Ives made a pair from the charity stripe with four seconds left to send the visitors into the half up by two, 34-32.

Eastern scored the first six points of the second half to push a two-point halftime lead to eight two minutes into action. The Anchormen chipped away at their deficit to climb within five points, 42-37, at 14:38. Eastern stormed back with a 9-2 surge, keyed by five points by Garrow, to go up by 12, 51-39, with 10:20 left.

Trailing by double figures, the Anchormen managed to cut the deficit to seven points on several occasions down the stretch, but seemingly could not pull any closer. With 2:30 on the clock, sophomore forward Chris Burton buried a three-pointer to make it, 64-60. After a steal by Roberts on the ensuing inbound, Burton knocked down a layup with just 2:13 left to play to cut the deficit to just two.

However, after Robitaille hit one of two free throws for the Warriors to make it a three-point game, Yarborough was fouled while converting a clutch layup with just 1:17 on the clock. His three-point play gave Eastern a 68-62 lead and essentially sealed the victory for the Warriors, as the Anchormen couldn't muster a comeback in the final minute of the game, despite pulling within five points on two separate occasions.

Eastern shot 55 percent (22-for-40) from the floor, 56 percent (5-for-6) from downtown and 79 percent (27-for-34) from the free throw line. Rhode Island College shot just 40 percent (27-for-68) from the field, 30 percent (6-for-20) from downtown and 47 percent (8-for-17) from the free throw line.

While the Warriors outshot the hosts by a wide margin (percentage-wise), RIC actually outscored Eastern by 11 from the floor but Eastern forced the Anchormen into 25 fouls and outscored them by 19 from the stripe  Garrow was 9-for-13 and Ives and Preston were both perfect on four tries each. With the exception of Garrow, no Eastern player missed more than one freebie, leading to a 79.4 percent marksmanship from the line.

Despite being outrebounded by the Warriors, 34-32, the Anchormen corralled 15 rebounds as a team. Carter led the hosts with a team-high eight board, including four offensive boards, to go along with four assists and two steals.

Rhode Island  also forced 25 turnovers, while committing just 13 turnovers on the offensive end. Burton finished with a game-high six steals and also added 17 points and four boards for the Anchormen. Roberts chipped in with 12 points, seven boards, four assists and two steals, while Palumbo finished with nine points off the bench.

With his second straight 20+ point game, Garrow took over the team scoring lead with an average of 16.6

Eastern competes at the Adidas Holiday Slam Dec. 21-22 in Miami. The Warriors face Buffalo State College at 3 p.m. Dec. 21 and Messiah College at 5 p.m. Dec. 22.

Rhode Island College Sports Information contributed to this game account.


W-Swim Routs Bridgewater, 151-112

Led by McVeigh and Colley, Warriors record fastest times in every event

colley_72_7471.jpgBRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Members of the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team swam the fastest times in all 14 swim events in defeating Bridgewater State University for the fifth consecutive time, 151-112, Saturday afternoon at the Dr. Mary Jo Moriarty Pool.

At left: Marissa Colley

Juniors Erin McVeigh (Windsor) and Marissa Colley (East Haven) won two events each and each swam a leg of a winning relay for Eastern.

Eastern swam the top three times in five of 14 swimming events and the top two in four others. The Warriors swam the final three events on an exhibition basis when the hosts were awarded 47 of their points. Bridgewater also collected 28 points in two diving events (Eastern does not have a diving team).

McVeigh captured the 100 yard butterfly (1:03.67) and 100 breaststroke (1:18.83) and Colley the 200 freestyle (2:10.26) and 100 backstroke (1:06.18), with freshman Katie King (Barkahamsted) winning the 50 breaststroke (33.33) and swimming the fastest time on an exhibition basis in the 100 individual medley (1:05.81).

Junior Colleen King (Barkamsted) recorded the fastest time in the 50 butterfly (28.79) and others winning individual events were juniors Michelle Schapp (Torrington) in the 500 freestyle (5:47.70) and Becky Odgers (Shelton) in the 50 backstroke, sophomore Abby Arisco (Wallingford) in the 200 individual medley  and freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) in the 50 freestyle.

Joining McVeigh and Colley on winning relays were Katie King,  Arisco, Macaire Jones, junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia), sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) and freshman Heather Avery (Wethersfield).

Eastern hosts Keene State College Jan. 12 at 1 p.m.

W-Basketball: Shooting Woes Sink Warriors

Eastern recovers from early deficit but eventually drops LEC decision


PROVIDENCE, R.I.- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team rebounded after allowing the first 12 points of the game but was never able to pull even in a 46-31 Little East Conference loss to Rhode Island College  Saturday at The Murray Center  Saturday afternoon.

At right: Brianna Leonard

While Rhode Island (6-2, 2-0 LEC) was sinking three of its first four shots (two of them three-pointers), Eastern (2-7, 0-2 LEC) came up empty on its first four shots (three of them in the paint) and turned the ball over once on its first five possession in digging an early 12-0 hole before pulling to within five later in the half and to within three midway through the second half.

Rhode Island  (6-2, 2-0 LEC) won its  third straight game and the defending LEC regular season and tournament champions defeated Eastern (2-7, 0-2 LEC) for the third straight time in the series.

Getting baskets from three different people, Eastern  rallied back to within 27-24 when sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) put back her own miss seven minutes into the second half. Still trailing by three and maintaining possession of the ball with ten minutes left, Eastern gave the ball back to the Anchorwomen and senior guard Ashley O'Dell turned a steal into two points to make it 31-26. Another Eastern miss inside resulted in a foul and a  pair of free throws by RIC freshman guard Danielle LeBlanc, and after the Warriors gave the ball away, freshman forward Vandell Andrade put back a miss by junior guard Stephanie Prusko to make it 35-26 with 8:27 left.

The Rhode Island lead reached double figures minutes later and crested at the final 15-point margin.

Eastern missed nearly 80 percent of its field goals en route to its season-low scoring total, with no one reaching double figures.

Eastern freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had a team-high eight points to go along with five rebounds and two steals and turned the ball over only once in 34 minutes, while sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) registered six points and five boards. Freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) led Eastern with six rebounds.

Both teams struggled to find their offense in the game, especially Eastern, which shot 21 percent (12-for-57).  RIC finished at 33 percent (18-for-55). The hosts controlled the glass (48-40), but lost the turnover battle (21-17).

Rhode Island senior forward Courtney Burns led the way with a game-high 12 points to go along with three boards and two assists and Andrade grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to complement nine points in just 16 minutes.  Junior forward Cara Paladino contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. O'Dell had eight points, while classmate forward Alexia Vega had four points and seven boards off the bench.

Eastern competes in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic, hosted by Springfield College, Jan. 1-2. The Warriors face Bridgewater State in their opener at 3 p.m.

NSCAA Recognizes Eastern Soccer

 Five are all-region; men cited with 2011/12 Team Academic Award 

nscaalogo.pngWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -  The Eastern Connecticut State University soccer teams have been recognized by the National Soccer Coaches' Association of American (NSCAA) for their successes on the playing field and in the classroom.

The Eastern men's soccer team was awarded an NSCAA Team Academic Award as one of 226 member Division I, II and III member institutions to record an overall grade-point average of at least 3.00 for the 2011/12 academic year. Eastern's GPA was 3.03.

In addition, three members of the Eastern men's program and two women's team members were recognized with NSCAA All-New England honors for 2012.

For the men, senior forward Matt Furman (Montville) was voted to the first team and senior defender Bradley Fletcher (Middletown) and senior keeper Jordan Munsell (Waterford) were second-team selections. As a sophomore in 2010, Furman was named to the second team.

For the women, senior forward Daniela Marchitto (Orange) repeated as a fourth-team selection and defender Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) became only the third freshman - first since 1998 - to gain all-region accolades when she joined Marchitto on the fourth team.

A three-time first-team All-Little East Conference selection and 2012 LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year, Furman helped the Warriors to a record 17-1-2 record and No. 4 regional ranking by leading the Warriors with 13 goals and 31 points.

A three-time LEC all-conference pick and 2012 conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year, Fletcher started all 20 matches and averaged 92 minutes per match.

In his first season as a starter, Munsell gained all 20 of the team's decision and played all but 43 minutes in net. He recorded eight full shutouts and started all nine, registering a 0.69 goals-against average and .829 goals-against average.

In addition to NSCAA regional honors, Furman was voted to the ECAC All-New England team as one of  only 14 selections - the only one from the Little East Conference.

Marchitto led the 9-6-3 Warriors in goals (10) and points (24). She is a four-time all-conference selection, 2011 LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year and 2009 LEC Rookie-of-the-Year.

Karahalios was this year's LEC Rookie-of-the-Year and a first-team all-conference selection when she was one of only three players on the team to start all 18 matches. She averaged 83.0 minutes per match and helped the Warriors to six shutouts and a 1.06 goals-against average. Prior to this year, the only all-region freshman picks from Eastern were second-teamer Julia Neilson in 1998 and second-teamer Anna Werfel in 1988.


W-Basketball Challenges Amherst in Loss

Against No. 7 Jeffs, Warriors stay within striking distance for 30 minutes

leonard_72_7980.jpgAMHERST, Mass. - The No. 7 nationally-ranked Amherst College women's basketball team never trailed and won its seventh straight game this year, but against an Eastern Connecticut State University team with 15 first and second-year players, it wasn't particularly impressive.

At left: In her return home Thursday night, freshman Brianna Leonard netted a career-high 14 points against the hometown team.

Tuesday night at LeFrak Gymnasium, Amherst (7-0) - coming off four straight trips to the NCAA Division III Final Four -- needed a a 14-3 second half run over a five-minute span to turn away rebuilding Eastern (2-6), which was playing its third road game in six days.

Eastern senior forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) led all scorers with 25 points - three shy of her career-high -- and eight rebounds, while freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had a career-high 14 points (6-for-11 from the floor) and four boards in her return home, and sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) ten points, five boards and four assists. The 20-point game was the first of this year but eighth in 25 career games for McCourt, who connected on 11 of 19 field goals and all three of her free throws and turned the ball over only twice in 35 minutes.

The Warriors never led in the game but managed to trim six points off a nine-point deficit thanks to a 13-7 run over six minutes in the second half. McCourt's layup and jump shot made it a three-point game with just over 13 minutes left, after which the Warriors went scoreless over a five-minute span (0-for-5 from the floor, 0-for-2 from the line) and trailed by 13 with nine minutes left.  They would not be able to cut that deficit to single digits the rest of the way.

After averaging over 20 turnovers in a stretch of four straight losses earlier this year, Eastern has given the ball away only 20 times in the last two games, including a season-low nine against Amherst.

Ahead 21-16 with just under five to play in the half, sophomore Megan Robertson connected on a jumper before senior Jasmine Hardy drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Jeffs their first double-digit lead.

A free throw by Eastern freshman Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) coupled with a McCourt three-point play pared Amherst's lead to six, but a Crowley jumper on the ensuing Amherst possession stretched the lead to 28-20. Still down eight after a Robertson layup at 1:47, Leonard netted the final points of the frame, hitting a pair from the charity stripe to cut it to 32-26 at the intermission.

Hardy opened the second half scoring with her second trey of the evening, but McCourt quickly trimmed the deficit to five with consecutive buckets. Once again behind by nine after a Voigt triple, McCourt continued to attack, scoring six of ECSU's next eight points to pull the visitors within three at 42-39.

Leonard had a chance to further cut into the lead, but missed a pair of free throws after an Amherst foul at 12:52. Hoping to take advantage, sophomore Savannah Holness converted two of her attempts from the charity stripe before hitting a layup to kick-start the Jeffs' decisive run. Hardy kept things rolling with a basket at the 10:24 mark before a Robertson jumper helped the Amherst lead swell to 11.

Senior Marcia Voigt made it 52-39 with a couple of free throws, before Forsman ended a 5:25 Warrior field goal drought with a jumper at 7:49. Trailing by 14 after a Holness layup with just over six minutes remaining in regulation, Eastern battled back to within 10 on a McCourt jumper with 2:21 on the clock, but Crowley hit back-to-back baskets to stem the visitors' comeback bid.

Despite shooting 46.0 percent (23-of-50) from the field, Eastern converted just 45.0 percent (9-of-20)  from the free-throw line, including 3-of-12 in the second half.

Voigt paced Amherst with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, while senior Bridget Crowley added 14 points and seven boards. Robertson  hit 6-of-11 attempts for 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Hardy rounded out the list of Jeffs in double figures with 11 points.

Eastern visits Rhode Island College Saturday in a Little East Conference game at 1 p.m., the fourth of six consecutive road contests for the Warriors.

M-Basketball Explodes Past Nichols, 95-86


By Brendan Driscoll/Sports Information Staff

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) each scored over 20 points on Thursday night, helping the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 95-86 non-conference victory over Nichols College in the final home game of 2012 at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Mike Garrow skies for two of his 18 first-half points in Thursday's 95-86 victory over Nichols College at Geissler Gym. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

Eastern (5-2) defeated Nichols for the sixth straight time but it was their first meeting since the 1983-84 season. Nicholas (3-4) lost its fourth straight.

Garrow scored 18 points in the first half including a dunk to give Eastern an early 11-5 lead to spark the Warriors to a season-high point output which was nearly 30 points higher than its season average. And the Warriors needed nearly all of it against a team averaging just north of 83 points per game.

Nichols had a full court press on for the entire game. The press helped and hurt the Bison throughout the game. They were able to force ten turnovers in the first half but at times Eastern was able to break the press to score easy baskets. Nichols was able to tie the game, 25-25, but then Eastern went on an 8-0 run with 5:52 remaining in the first. That would be the last time Nichols had a share of the lead, as Eastern was able to finish the half with a 45-37 lead.

In the early stages of the second half, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) took over the game, scoring seven consecutive points. He first made a three pointer, then drove to lane on the next possession to make a layup. Preston than stole the ball in the backcourt and got fouled on the ensuing  shot. He made both free throws to put Eastern ahead 59-46. Preston finished the game with a career-high 18 points, 13 points above his season average.

Nichols received a blow to its  offense when junior Ryan Sheehan  fouled out of the game with 11 minutes left. The team leader with a remarkable scoring average of just over 28 points, Sheehan was the leading scorer at the time for the Bison with 19 points. Eastern was able to extend its lead to 17 with 10 minutes left in the game. Nichols then went on a 15-2 run to shrink the Eastern lead to six with only four minutes to play. Garrow then scored his only three points of the second half to end the run. After a turnover Preston had a good drive to the basket to put Eastern back up by double digits.

Ives shared game-high scoring honors with Nichols' Kyle Mascilak (who came off the bench and played only 24 minutes) with a career-high 25 points (and six assists), with Garrow scoring 21. Sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) recorded a double-double in the game by grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds and scoring ten points.  Preston and Garrow contributed four assists each and in his second career start, freshman center Darryl Best (Hamden) blocked three of the team's seven shots and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes.

Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday at 3 p.m. at  Rhode Island College.

W-Basketball Continues Mastery of WSU



mcourt7p_7843.jpgAbove: Shannon McCourt shoots for two of her 13 points against Westfield

Warriors lead from start to finish in 72-66 decision over Owls

WESTFIELD, Mass. - A point of emphasis in the Westfield State University scouting report likely did not include preventing Eastern Connecticut State University guard Samantha Riccio (Avon) from shooting.

Entering the game shooting under 30 percent and averaging less than three points in six games, Riccio connected on four consecutive perimeter shots early in the second half to help the Warriors maintain a double-digit lead in a 72-66 non-conference women's basketball triumph at the Woodward Center.

riccio_72_7956.jpgAt left: Samantha Riccio

The victory put an end to a five-game losing streak for Eastern (2-5), which never trailed in the game and defeated Westfield (3-3) for the 20th straight time and 22nd time in 23 series meetings since 1974.

Managing only two points in six first-half minutes, Riccio nailed five of seven shots in 12 second-half minutes and finished as one of four Eastern players in double figures, with a season-high 12.

With the Warriors leading by nine points five minutes into the second half, Riccio outscored the Owls 8-4 in a three-minute stretch, sinking four consecutive perimeter shots. Her fourth one with just under 12 minutes left prompted a timeout from Westfield, which trailed by 13, 56-43.

Eastern led by nine with five minutes left before the Owls made a run, cutting the the Warriors' lead to three twice in the final minute. Timely free-throw shooting by Eastern kept Westfield from getting any closer, however. Behind sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) and sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), Eastern converted five straight tries in the final minutes. Forsman, who had given the Warriors a six-point lead with 2:33 left with a conventional three-point play, hit both ends of a two-shot foul with 22.4 seconds left, and sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) made one of two with 9.1 seconds left to ice the win.

McCourt, Forsman and freshman guard Megan Cardarelli (Manchester) combined for 26 first-half points to power Eastern to a nine-point halftime lead. The Warriors scored 11 of the game's first 13 points, and soon after the hosts cut the gap to one with a 14-6 spurt, Eastern ended the half by scoring 15 of the final 20 points.

Forsman, McBride and freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) combined on 12 of 15 marksmanship from the foul line and the Warriors turned the ball over only ten times.

Forsman had 15 points, McCourt 13, Riccio 12 and freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ritrosky led all Eastern players with eight rebounds, McCourt adding seven and McBride handing out four assists.

Jen Ashton led Westfield with a game-high 16 points and added five assists and three rebounds and Gabby Felix had eight points and nine rebounds.

Eastern visits Amherst College Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

M-Basketball: Salzillo Vaults Warriors

Off the bench, he scores 22 first-half points, including team's final 16

salzillo_726850.jpgNEW PALTZ, N.Y. - Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) began their careers as instrumental players off the bench.

At left: Brian Salzillo

Tuesday night in a non-conference game against SUNY at New Paltz, those two veteran players returned to that role -- at least for one night -- combining for 44 points on 14-for-26 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds in a 78-74 victory at the Hawk Center.

Salzillo sparked Eastern (4-2)  to a 42-point first half by scoring 22 -- hitting his final eight shots from the floor (including all six of his three-point tries) and scoring the team's final 16 points over the final eight minutes. In a starting role,  junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) contributed 12 first-half points and Robitaille added six points, the trio combining for all but two of the team's first half points as the Warriors rolled to a 14-point halftime lead.

The Warriors, who won their fourth straight over New Paltz (3-4), never trailed in the second half. After  the hosts chipped away and pulled to within one with eight minutes left, Eastern appeared to have the game in hand when a run of seven straight points - five from Robitaille - gave it an eight-point edge with 5:30 left, but it took two free throws from Garrow and two from Salzillo inside the final 38 seconds to secure the victory. 

Behind Salzillo and Garrow, Eastern  was 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from distance in the first 20 minutes of play. New Paltz scored the first six points of the game, and it took Salzillo's first three-pointer to send the Warriors into their first lead, with just over eight minutes left. Eastern would trail only once the rest of the way.

Salzillo scored a career-high 26 points--18 coming off three-pointers--coming off the bench, while his teammate Robitaille added 18 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Garrow added 17 points and five assists and combined with Robitaille to sink 13 of 16 free throws. Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) collected six assists, and in his first career start, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) chipped in four assists and had only one turnover in 21 minutes.

Senior Shereef Taylor  led the Hawks with a game-high 27 points off 10-of-16 shooting, including a 5-of-9 mark from long range. Senior Matt Devine chipped in 18 points, while senior Shalik Jenkins added 15.

Eastern hosts Nichols College Thursday at 7 p.m

Eastern Makes Big Impact on 'Little' Race


image4_72dpi.jpgBy Jason Tierinni/Sports Information Staff

Since its inception in 1927, the Manchester Road Race has become a Connecticut tradition on Thanksgiving morning, with upwards of 15,000 runners competing in the 4.7 mile race which is the third-largest distance race in New England.


At left: Ryan Franklin directs the youngsters during the Little Manchester Road Race.

Many groups have benefited from the popularity of nationally-renowned race, most notably the Muscular Dystrophy Association , the major benefactor - along with nearly 20 local charities.

In recent years, many area  youngsters have enjoyed an association with the race through the creation of the Little Manchester Road Race, which is staged the Saturday before the Big Manchester Road Race.

And this year, members of the Eastern Connecticut State University track and field and cross country programs were there to ensure that the youngsters enjoyed themselves.

The Little Manchester Road race was started in conjunction with the Manchester Road Race.  It is a free race held for kids 12 and under and it helps give back to the community. The course run by the kids was developed in Charter Oak Park in Manchester. 

Over 500 children ages 12 and under were involved and it required many people lending a helping hand to make this day a success -- not the least of whom were members of the Eastern running program who were there to perform numerous tasks so that  this event run smoothly. 

The Eastern athletes helped assist other volunteers with showing the kids around the trail.  They also helped out with registration and distributed  food and handed out medals.

Senior Ryan Franklin from Glastonbury was dressed as a rabbit and helped lead the way for the youngsters as he guided them through the course.   Eastern first-year track and field and cross country coach Kathy Manizza said, "This experience is something they can be really proud of. It was a fun time and I know that our student-athletes enjoyed being part of something bigger."

Eastern's contribution to the race went beyond the day of the event. In the weeks prior to the race, the entire Eastern cross country team helped with shirt packaging and mailing. 

The event also allowed the members of the team to bond away from practice.  Manizza explained, "In track you have many different type of track members with sprinters, jumpers, throwers and distance runners. They don't all practice together , so this is something where they interact and get to know each other better outside of track practice."
Added Manizza, "This race is going to continue to grow and we are going to continue to grow with it."

Members of the track program who donated their time, in addition to Franklin, were Tim Callahan, Ariel Dupont, Katie France, Alexa Palasky, Kylie McCartney, Sam Lew, Samone Jones-McCarthy, Alex Maciolek, Chelsea Morsey, Emily Sniffin, Sherry Gilronan, Chris Brown, Kyle Bolden, D'Vonte Chambers, Fred Hewett, Dylan Kruppa, Steven LaFlamme, Andre Reynolds, and  Luis Rosado.

In the month of giving, we should give thanks to these student-athletes who volunteered their time and efforts to this event. Eastern is proud of all of you.

Little East Honors Eastern Duo in Track

Hewett and Hultzman are recognized as athlete of the week

hultzman 72lec_1080.jpgLEC LOGO PARE72dpi.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University juniors Fredrick Hewett (New London) and Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) have been recognized with a weekly honor in the sport of track and field by the Little East Conference in its first weekly awards program of the indoor season.

Hewett, a second-year letterwinner, was named male track Athlete-of-the-Week and Hultzman, a third-year participant, was selected female field Athlete-of-the-Week. It is the first weekly honor of the indoor season in the careers of both athletes.

In the first meet of the season Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Boston Invitational at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, Hewett qualified for the New England Division III Championships for the second time in as many years in the 400 (51.07) and 60 (7.20), outrunning a field of 25 in the former event. He was also fifth in a field of 65 in the 60. It was his second individual title in the 400 in his two-year career as hehewett 72_1234.jpg also won at Coast Guard last Jan. 28.

At UMass Boston, Hultzman qualified for the New England Division III Championships for the third time in as many year with a leap of 5-2 1/4 - less than one inch shy of the program record which she shares - in claiming second place in a field of 23. Hultzman was one of three competitors to jump 5-2 ¼, with Leah Potter of Tufts winning on jumps.  In the meet, Hultzman was also 11th in the long jump (14-11 ½) and ran the preliminaries of the 60 hurdles.

Hultzman was last year's Little East Conference and New England Alliance high jump champion and achieved All-New England honors in both the Division III and Open meets.

Under the direction of head coach Kathy Manizza, Eastern competes in the Yale University Invitational Saturday at 9 p.m. at historic Coxe Cage.


Track: Warriors Off And Running at UMB

                   In season-opener, seven individuals qualify for post-season

  hultzman_head_725958.jpghewett head 72_0145.jpg

At left: Hultzman, Hewett 


Men's finishers.pdf

Women's finishers.pdf

BOSTON - On the first weekend of the season, seven individuals from the Eastern Connecticut State University men's and women's indoor track and field team have secured spots in post-season competition.

At the first University of Massachusetts Boston Invitational at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center Saturday, five women and two men met qualifying standards for the New England Division III Championships in mid-February or the ECAC Division III Championships in early March.

In the 14-team non-scoring invitational, individuals qualified in the sprints, hurdles, middle distance, jumps and throws.

Junior Frederick Hewett (New London) qualified for the New England Division III Championships at 60 and 400 meters  for the second time in as many years at Eastern, with Andre Reynolds (Hartford) qualifying in the 60 hurdles in a program-record time, senior Cora Gingras (East Hampton) and junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) in the high jump, junior Akaya McElveen (New Haven) in the 500, sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) in the 800, and freshman Shanique Bunsie (Bridgeport) in the shot in her first collegiate meet.

All seven individuals qualified for the New England Division III Championships, with Hultzman additionally meeting the ECAC Championships standard.

Hewett outran a field of 25 competitors to claim the 400  in a time of 51.07, edging Little East Conference rival Gerald Arneaud by .11 at the finish in the first heat. He was also fifth in a field of 65 in the 60 in a time of 7.20.

After falling .01 shy of the program record in the preliminaries, Reynolds  broke the six-year-old program record of 8.92 in placing fifth in the 60 hurdles in a time of 8.87.  

Gingras, who shares the program high jump record of 5-3 with Hultzman, qualified for post-season competition in the high jump for the fourth straight season indoors. Hultzman, fourth in the New England meet last year, qualified for the third time in as many seasons. In a field of 23 at UMB, Hultzman (5-2 1/4) was second and Gingras (5-0 ¼) sixth.

In her collegiate debut in the shot, Bunsie unloaded the sixth-longest throw in program history, placing  fifth among 26 with a mark of 36-9 ½.

Chambers (2:24.82) ran to second place in the 800, her time four seconds better than the New England Championship standard. After running the 500 only once last year, McElveen steamed to a time of 1:22.47, which was just .12 off the ten-year-old program record. She was third overall Saturday.

Other top performances Saturday were submitted by junior Tacia Bryant (Guilford), sophomores Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) and Lee Cattanach (New London) and freshman Kylie McCartney (Manchester).

Bryant (15-2) was ninth in a field of 24 in the long jump, Kruppa (53.55) ninth among 25 in the 400, Cattanach (15:42.20) - an all-conference performer in cross country -- seventh among 25 in a record time which broke the nine-year-old record in the 5000 by ten seconds and McCartney (5:40.16) sixth among 28 in the mile.

Eastern competes at the Yale University Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m.

W-Swim: Warriors 2nd at LEC Meet

In eight-team field, Warriors collect 326 points and break two records

kingK72LEC_7315.jpgAbove: Katie King en route to winning the 100 yard breaststroke in a program-record time of 1:09.32

Results.htm    Team Scores.pdf      Individual Points.pdf    Points by Event.pdf


At right: Erin McVeigh  

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) broke her own record in the 100 yard backstroke and Katie King (Barkamsted) broke the program record in the 100 breaststroke in becoming the first Eastern Connecticut State University freshman to win an individual event in eight years at the 12th Little East Conference Championships Saturday at the Tripp Center Natatorium on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Eastern  placed second for the fifth straight year in the eight-team meet, collecting 326 points - its second-highest total ever and the fourth time in the last five years that it has reached at least 300 -- for a 139-point win over third-place Massachusetts Dartmouth. Keene State College won its seventh straight title and tenth overall with 630 points.

Seeded second, Katie King  broke Jessica Wilson's three-year-old record by just over a half-second with a time of 1:09.32, becoming the first freshman since Sarah Barber in 2004 to claim a gold medal in the meet. Seeded fourth, Schapp placed third in the 100 backstroke in a time of 1:01.45, improving her own record set as a freshman at the New England Championships by just under one second.

kingKaward_72_7373.jpgAt left: Katie King accepts her first-place ribbon from LEC Commissioner Jonathan Harper.

The 200 medley relay (1:53.85) and 400 freestyle relay (3:50.82) both captured second place, with senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) also registering a top three finish by taking third in the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:35.15. Members of the 200 medley relay were Schapp, Katie and junior Colleen King (Barkhamsted) and freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury), while junior Marissa Colley (East Haven), sophomore Abby Arisco (Wallingford), junior Morgan Charlow (Branford) and senior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) teaming on the 400 freestyle relay.

The 200 medley relay - which opened the meet - was a two-team race between Keene and Eastern, with the Owls edging the Warriors by less than two seconds.

The two relays netted Eastern 52 points, with four individuals combining for 37 points in the 200 breaststroke, three swimmers collecting three of the top six spots for 35 points in the 100 breaststroke, and five individuals placing among the top 12 for a 32-point haul in the 200 backstroke.

ariscos72dpi_7704.jpgAt left: Abby Arisco (middle) receives a hug from sister Amy following her sixth-place finish in the 100 butterfly.

In all, 16 different individuals contributed points. Katie King and McVeigh recorded 32 points each in three individual events, plus contributed to a relay, with Arisco totaling 27 points (plus swimming one relay) with sixth-place finishes in three events and Schapp and Macaire Jones adding 25 points and also swimming on a relay. In addition to claiming the 100 breaststroke in record time, Katie King was fourth in the 200 breaststroke and eighth in the 400 IM. McVeigh was Eastern's top seed in three events and picked up fourth-place finishes in the 200 and 500 freestyle and a fifth in the 100 butterfly; Macaire Jones was fourth in the 50 freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and ninth in the 100 butterfly, and Schapp third in the 100 backstroke in record time, fifth in the 200 backstroke and tenth in the 500 freestyle.

Seventeen of the 18 Eastern swimmers in the meet swam their fastest times in at least one event and contributed to the team's 39 fastest times in the meet. Recording fastest times in all three of their events were junior Vic San Pietro (Stratford), freshman Rachel Borden (Milford), Charlow, Colley, Katie King, McVeigh, O'Kelly and Schapp. Five Eastern swimmers in the 100 freestyle, and 100 and 200 breaststroke posted fastest times, as did four competitors in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

A total of 13 personal career bests were also established by swimmers who had swam the event prior to this year, with Arisco, San Pietro and Tromp producing two each. 

The top two individuals in each event and first two relays are accorded All-LEC honors, with the top 12 individuals and all eight relays scoring points.

Katie King becomes the fourth different Eastern individual to win a gold medal at the meet, following Amy Arisco, Sarah Barber and Julie Motolo. Arisco won the 200 freestyle and 400 IM in 2010, Barber the 1,000 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle in 2005, and the 500 and 1,000 freestyle and 400 IM in 2004, and Motolo the 50 freestyle in 2004.

Eastern visits Bridgewater State University Saturday at 1 p.m.


W-Basketball: Favored Huskies Survive

Warriors play LEC pre-season No. 1 team to final five-point margin

Box Score.HTM

GORHAM, Maine  -  Thritrosky72_7001.jpge final result of Saturday's Little East Conference women's basketball opener between Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Southern Maine mirrored the majority of the previous 76 contests in this 26-year rivalry - low-scoring and decided by single digits.

At left: Jill Ritrosky (Photo by Courtney Weber).

However, with the undefeated Huskies coming off a 20-win season and favored by a pre-season vote of the conference coaches to win the LEC regular season, this game should have proven to be an anomaly in this hotly-contested rivalry.

It wasn't.

In its fourth straight loss Saturday, Eastern (1-5, 0-1 Little East) trailed by only two points inside the final minute  before Southern Maine (6-0, 1-0 Little East) broke Eastern's fullcourt press and scored an inside hoop, then converted a key free throw 13 seconds later and pulled out a 59-54 victory at the Warren Hill Gymnasium.

Four free throws  by freshman  guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) pulled the Warriors to within a pair, 56-54, with just under a minute left. After junior guard Erin McNamara broke a full court press and sank a layup on the Huskies ensuing possession for a 58-54 lead with 44 seconds to play, the Warriors missed a shot with 26 seconds left and McNamara added one of two free throws seconds later to make the final margin give points.

Senior guard Nicole Garland and sophomore forward Rebecca Knight combined to score 31 points to lead the Huskies , who had routed undermanned Eastern by 42 points when the teams met last January in Gorham.

Despite being outshot from the floor by a wide margin, the Warriors led by one at halftime, but continued difficulties from the floor in the second half (25.9 per cent) allowed them only 23 second-half points.

Sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) led the Warriors with 17 points - her fourth game this season of at least ten points. Averaging four points and six rebounds this year, Ritrosky racked up her first double-double with a season-high 14 points and season-high 14 rebounds, while sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds  (two shy of her career high) to help the Warriors to a 48-31 advantage on the boards, including a remarkable 18-4 margin on the offensive glass. Ritrosky and McCourt each pulled down five offensive rebounds.

Knight was 8-for-10 from the field for a game-high 19 points while Garland added 12 points.  Knight grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists and three steals.  Garland had four rebounds, three assists and a steal.  Senior forward Jordan Grant added nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Despite starting the game in rhythm and holding a solid nine-point, 16-7, lead eight minutes into the game, Southern Maine nearly gave the game away on the offensive glass and trailed Eastern by a point at the break.  Down by six with 2:20 remaining in the half , Eastern used a 7-0 run to grab the lead, helped by a pair of offensive rebounds and five points from Forsman. 

In the second half, both teams battled back and forth before a three-pointer from junior forward Nash Biliew gave the Huskies the lead 37-35 four minutes into the second half. Biliew's three ignited a game-deciding 10-0 run for the Huskies.  Biliew score the first five points of the run for USM while Knight added a traditional three-point play and a layup for the final five and a 44-35 lead with 13:15 to play.

The Huskies would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game but were unable to grab more than a nine-point lead over the pesky Warriors for the remainder of the game.  The Warriors scored nearly a third of their 54 points off of second-chance buckets and clawed their way back to within two possessions three times in the final four minutes. 

Eastern  travels to Westfield State University Tuesday at 7 p.m.  for a non-conference contest.


M-Basketball: Warriors Drop LEC Opener

On road, defending champs beaten in OT by Southern Maine, 69-63

Box Score.HTM
salzillo 72_6682.jpg
GORHAM, Maine  -   Following the loss of four key seniors, winning a second straight Little East Conference championship was sure to be a difficult task for the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team in 2012/13.

At right: Brian Salzillo

The uphill struggle which lies ahead came into focus immediately Saturday afternoon on the opening weekend of the conference season when a University of Southern Maine team which has struggled in conference competition the last several years, slayed the defending champs in overtime, 69-63, at the Hill Gymnasium.

Picked for eighth (last) in the LEC pre-season coaches' poll, Southern Maine (4-2, 1-0 Little East) ended four years of futility (eight straight losses) at the hands of Eastern (3-2, 0-1 Little East) when junior Conor Sullivan and senior Sean Bergeron combined to score 11 of the Huskies 13 points in overtime  as the Huskies won their first home game of the season after an opening loss. Eastern, picked for third in the LEC pre-season poll, was coming off consecutive victories over New England Small College Athletic Conference opponents and lost its first road contest after an opening triumph.

In overtime, USM outscored the Warriors 13-7.  Sullivan gave the Huskies the lead sinking one of two free throws to start the scoring and the Huskies never trailed.  The Warriors pulled to within two, 63-61, following a three-pointer from freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield), but Sullivan and Bergeron sealed the win.  Following Preston's three, Sullivan converted a fast-break layup for a 65-61 lead with 52 seconds to play, before Bergeron cleared the defensive glass and sank two free throws followed by another Sullivan layup for a 69-61 lead with 16 seconds to play. 

Ives had given Eastern a six-point lead with five minutes to play with two free throws before USM closed out regulation on a 9-3 run to force overtime, Sullivan, Bergeron and junor Brandon Tomah each scoring three-points for the Huskies in the run.

Junior guard Brian Salzillo's (North Haven) three-pointer pushed Eastern into a 56-55 lead with a minute left in regulation and after the Huskies tied the game by sinking the back end of a two-shot foul, the Warriors couldn't end the game in regulation when they missed a buzzer-beater.

Eastern canned 13 of 15 free throws in the game, but didn't attempt one in the five-minute extra session. The hosts scored seven of their 13 overtime points from the stripe.

Eastern junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) led the Warriors with 19 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.  Salzillo - the Warriors' leading scorer - reached his season scoring average with 15 points on five three-pointers, the Warriors sinking ten of 30 from behind the arc in the game. Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds, nailing eight of nine free throws.

Sullivan led all-scorers with a career-high 23 points, while Bergeron tallied a double-double off of the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Tomah  added 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals for USM, and senior guard Mike Poulin added 10 points.

Eastern visits SUNY-New Paltz on Tuesday  at 7 p.m. 

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