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February 2013 Archives

W-Lacrosse Drops Opener, 13-8

Springfield scores seven straight goals in second half to pull away

heslin_head_72_9761.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. --  Paced by sophomore Michelle Dorsey, the Springfield College women's lacrosse team snapped a tie early in the second half with seven consecutive goals -- six coming in a span of less than six minutes -- and went on to a 13-8 non-conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University in the season-opener for both teams Thursday afternoon at Stagg Field.

 Haley Heslin (at left) made seven saves in her goalie debut

Dorsey scored her first three goals of the season and added an assist to spark the run for Springfield, which defeated Eastern for the first time after losing post-season tournament matches to the Warriors in 2003 and 2005 in the only previous contests between the programs.

Trailing 5-2 with 13 minutes left in the first half, Eastern pulled even by outscoring the hosts 4-1, with senior Daniela Marchitto (Orange) scoring twice and senior Christina Rully (Orange) and junior Taylor Shannon (Waterford) adding one each. Three of the goals came on free-position attempts.

In her debut in goal, Eastern junior Haley Heslin (Hartford) made  seven saves, with four of the Prides' goals coming on five free-position attempts.

Marchitto led Eastern with four goals and five ground balls, with senior Rachel Meotti (Glastonbury) winning four of the team's nine draws.

Eastern opens its home season Saturday at 3 p.m. against Colby-Sawyer College.


Women's Lax Joins the Chase in 2013

The perenniel Little East favorites will do the chasing this season

By Nicolas Wilcox/Sports Information Staff


WATCH: Head Coach Christine Hutchison previews the season (12:07)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- After several years as the pre-season favorite in the Little East Conference, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's lacrosse team will be flying under the radar in 2013.

At right: Daniela Marchitto

Which isn't all that bad, according to seventh-year head coach Christine Hutchison.

As the top-rated team in the 2012 LEC pre-season coaches' poll, Eastern lost two conference regular-season games for the first time  in eight years, and as the No. 3 playoff seed, outlasted Rhode Island College in the first round before being eliminated in an exciting 7-6 decision at No. 2 seed Keene State College. The loss left the Warriors out of the LEC title game for the first time under Hutchison.

"This team plays better as the underdog when we have to prove ourselves," pointed out Hutchison, a three-time LEC Coach-of-the-Year.

This year's team looks to bounce back after losing several impact seniors from last year's 12-7 team, among them three-time All-LEC players Ashley Prizio - the two-time conference Offensive Player-of-the-Year --  and defender Megan Barrett.

This season, Hutchison returns 15 letterwinners (nine of them starters), among them  last season's leading ground baller and two-time second-team All-LEC selection Rachel Meotti (Glastonbury), leading scorer and two-time first-team All-LEC pick Daniela Marchitto (Orange), and   third-leading scorer and No. 1 faceoff person Erin Conn (Moriches, NY).

The season-opener is scheduled for Thursday, February 28th, when Eastern will play at Springfield College, an NCAA Division III tournament team a year ago. The team is schedule to play its home- opener against Colby-Sawyer College March 2.

Hutchinson will be looking for her players to become more balanced and use a spread attack this season. Hutchinson noted, "It's going to be more rounded this year and hopefully a little more in control. Last year was scattered with' star mentality', but we're focusing on a 'team' mentality this season. The team is more in control, they're all on the same page and they listen to one another."


At left: Christina Rully

The team will be looking for its young talent to step it up this season,  especially at the goalie position. Two of the five seniors who graduated   were the starting (Kristianna Ibsen) and backup (Amber Petrizzo) goalies for last year's team. The goalie battle features junior Haley Heslin (Hartford) who has only played in four career games on defense, and freshman Hannah Keiser (Danbury), a field hockey player who has no high school lacrosse experience. Hutchison has yet to name a starter. 

On defense, the Warriors will be looking to replace three-time Barrett, who was last year's defensive anchor. Key players to watch on defense are senior tri-captains  Samantha Barone (Plainedge, NY) and Meotti. "We are going to see both Rachel and Sam move up the field a lot," noted Hutchison. "They'll be key to our transition game. They'll be big for us because of their aggressiveness."

At defensive midfield and/or low defense are senior three-year letterwinner Christina Rully (Orange) - one of five returning players to have started all 19 games a year ago -- junior Taylor Shannon (Waterford), sophomore field hockey goalie Olivia Mullen (Bethel) and junior  field hockey player Finley Ahearn (Wallingford).

Marchitto, a senior tri-captain, is represented in a handful of all-time  statistical categories. A two-sport standout, Marchitto  enters her eighth season of collegiate athletics (she is also an all-region midfielder in soccer) ranked sixth in goals scored (143) and total points (186) and is second in free position goals list (52). When talking about Marchitto, Hutchison says, "We're looking for her to score but we're looking for our high attack to put the ball in the cage.Daniela is a huge threat,  but we're looking for her to be a playmaker and not so much a drive to the cage."

The  midfield additionally features  senior Taylor Buchanan (Ellington),  junior Ashley Wolk (Barrington, RI) and sophomore Sandy Scarpa (Waterford). A second-team all-conference honoree in 2011, Buchanan missed the majority of last year while rehabilitating an ACL injury before returning for the stretch run, then re-injured that knee. She did not compete in the pre-season this year.

Hutchison indicated that she was very impressed with Scarpa, who came off the bench in 17 matches last year.  "Sandy is a different athlete this year," said Hutchison. "She's gotten a lot better in only five weeks (of pre-season). She's using her speed and left hand."

The top attack women for this season will start with Conn, who also returns as the team's No. 1 faceoff person, where she won 58 percent of her draws a year ago. Hutchison says, "We're making Erin our QB. She will be running the plays. Her job is to run the attack and make sure everyone is on the same page."

With the loss of Prizio - who graduated fourth all-time in goals and points in a three-year career - a number of returnees will be counted upon for improved offensive firepower on lowe offense. Among them are juniors Alexa Foldy (Brookfield),  Christine Lillis (Waterford), Kelsea Burkhardt (Old Saybrook) and Mikaely Whitehouse (Columbia), along with sophomores Meg Eremita (South Windsor) and Lauren Wells (Stratford) and freshman Tess Mraz (Fairfield). 

In her first season last spring, Foldy started 14 games. She is fourth among returnees with 16 points. Eremita is in her second year after transferring from Saint Leo University while Whitehouse joins the program  after scoring 16 goals and adding five assists in two seasons at Mount Saint Mary College (NY).

Providing depth behind the regulars are returning junior Vic San Pietro (Stratford), returning sophomores Lauren Wells (Stratford) and Amy Burkhardt (Old Saybrook),  first-year sophomore Beth Morrison (Old Saybrook), along with freshman field hockey player Mackenzie Brower (Granby) and freshman Chelsea Scanlan (Gales Ferry).

When talking about strengths for this team, Hutchinson noted, "We are fast this year. The team communicates very well and everyone seems 'all in' and on the same page. They've all worked really hard."



M-Lax: Warriors Can't Contain Ducks

In opener, Eastern lose early momentum against No. 6 Stevens Tech

gillottiB_jersey_72_9112.jpgHARTFORD, Conn. - The Stevens Tech men's lacrosse team broke a second-quarter tie with three consecutive goals and Eastern Connecticut State University was never able to get closer than two the rest of the way when the Warriors dropped their season-opener, 16-8, Wednesday afternoon at Trinity College.

At left: Brendan Gillotti

Eastern junior All-America midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) helped Eastern to an early 3-1 lead with a pair of strikes in the first seven minutes, but Stevens (3-0) answered with four in a row - two coming on the first two goals of the year by sophomore midfielder Michael Frasco - to regain the momentum.

Ranked sixth nationally, Stevens' defense limited Eastern to just two second-half goals. The Ducks scored six consecutive goals - two by Frasco and two by senior midfielder Rich Dupras -- to move out to a 14-6 lead with 18 minutes left in the match.

Eastern freshman goalie Brendan Gillotti (Danbury) made 11 saves in his collegiate debut, with senior Drew Deane (Vernon) stopping four in the final quarter.

Frasco and Dupras combined for nine of Stevens' goal and senior All-America midfielder Nicolas Philippi was credited with four assists. Devine and junior midfielder Tyler Fresen (Newington) each had three goals to lead Eastern. Devine, who contributed to five of Eastern's goals by adding two assists, took 11 of Eastern's 29 shots, but was held off the board over the final 38 minutes.

Eastern's man-down unit successfully killed off seven of Stevens' extra-match opportunites and senior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 15 of 26 faceoffs.

Eastern hosts Gordon College Saturday at noon in its home-opener.


M-Hoop: Robitaille Sparks Warriors

He leads second-half charge, finishes with career-high 31 in ECAC

robitaille JW72dpi_3785.jpg

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) improved his career-high point total for the second straight game with 31 points, shooting 14-for-18 from the floor in leading the No. 3 seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to an 85-64 victory over No. 6 seed Johnson & Wales University in the opening round of the 2013 ECAC New England Division III Tournament at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium Wednesday evening.

At right: Chris Robitaille battles Frank Robinson in the first half of Wednesday's ECAC victory. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

By registering its fourth straight 20-win season, Eastern (20-8) advances to the tournament semifinals Saturday at 3 p.m. against No. 2 seed Anna Maria College (21-8), which eliminated No. 7 seed University of Southern Maine, 76-62, Wednesday night. The semifinals and final will be played at No. 1 seed Westfield State University (22-5), which downed No. 8 seed Emerson College, 71-52. Westfield faces No. 4 seed Castleton State College in the first semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m. The Spartans edged No. 5 Wentworth Institute of Technology, 80-79.

The tournament final is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.

Playing its seventh straight home game in the ECAC tournament over a three-year span, Eastern scored 50 points on 69.0 percent shooting in the second half against Johnson & Wales to erase a five-point halftime deficit.  Robitaille, who moved to within 26 points of 1,000 in his career, had 19 second-half points (8-of-9 from the floor), while junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) was perfect on three three-point field goals and added 11 over the final 20 minutes. Held scoreless in the first half, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) added nine points in the second half.

Salzillo, who set a program season record this year for three-point field goals, followed Robitaille with 19 points, sinking 5-of-10 from long range, with sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford)  totaling a career-high 12 points , grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out five assists. Junior guard Mike Garrow (Terryville) chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Robitaille led all players in the game with 11 rebounds, recording his fourth double-double in the last five games.

Playing without two starters -- Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Rookie-of-the-Year and team scoring leader Quarry Greenway and leading rebounder Esaie Touze - the Wildcats scored 13 points off ten Eastern turnovers and shot 51.5 percent in the first half in opening up a five-point halftime lead.

Freshman guard Tom Garrick and senior guard Dan Barbour combined for 22 first-half points for the Wildcats, Garrick grabbing six rebounds.

Salzillo's three-point field goal three minutes into the second half gave the Warriors the lead for good and Eastern went on a 19-3 run over six minutes to push the advantage to 17, 63-46, with 11:30 left. Robitaille sparked that spurt with nine points, Salzillo burying two three-pointers and two free throws.

Barbour topped the Wildcats with 19 points (8-of-14 from the floor). Garrick had 17 points and eight rebounds, but only five of the points and two of the rebounds came in the second half.  Junior guard Curtis Lucas added 15 points.


Eastern Athletics Weekly: Wed., 12:30


eawfeb.jpgThis week's edition of Eastern Athletics Weekly with hosts Nick Aconfora (above, center), Sean Harrison (right) and Nick Minutelli (left) will air Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. This week's guests include head women's lacrosse coach Christine Hutchson and senior tri-captain Daniela Marchitto, who will discus their team's season-opener Thursday at Springfield College. The hosts will also preview the ECAC New England Men's Basketball Tournament, with the Warriors hosting Johnson & Wales University in a first-round game Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. The show can be seen live and archived on


M-Basketball To Host ECAC Opener

No.3 Warriors meet No. 6 Johnson & Wales Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.


ecac logo72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team has been selected as the No. 3  seed in the 2013 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Division III Tournament and will host a first-round game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

Wednesday's ECAC game features conference Rookie-of-the-Year selections in Eastern's Trachone Preston (at right) and Johnson & Wales' Quarry Greenway.

Eastern (19-8) meets No. 6-seeded Johnson & Wales University (15-12) for the first time ever in one of four tournament first-round games scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Because No. 2-seeded Anna Maria College (20-8) is unable to host beyond the first round, Eastern would host the Final Four on Saturday and Sunday if it wins Wednesday and top-seeded Westfield State University (21-5) is upset by No. 8-seeded Emerson College (15-11).

The ECAC bid is the seventh for the Warriors since 1981. Eastern is 5-6 in six previous ECAC appearances, 5-3 at Geissler Gym. Wednesday's game will be the seventh straight at home in the ECAC tournament game for the Warriors, who lost in the championship game as the No. 1 seed in both 2010 and 2011 after winning first round and semifinal-round contests at home.

Under 11th-year head coach Bill Geitner, the Warriors are making their fourth straight post-season tournament game, having reached the NCAA Division III Sweet 16 last year after capturing the Little East Conference championship and establishing a season record of 24 wins (in 30 games). A win Wednesday would give the Warriors a fourth straight 20-win season.

Eastern has played the last three weeks without starting senior point guard Joe Ives (Avon) and Saturday's Little East semifinal contest against Keene State College without senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire). Ives was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained Jan. 30 against Wesleyan University and Hundley received four stitches in his lip and sustained a concussion in last Tuesday's LEC first-round home win over Western Connecticut. It is likely that Hundley would return if the Warriors advance to this weekend's semifinals.

Wednesday, Eastern is expected to start junior Brian Salzillo (North Haven), sophomore Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) and freshman Trachone Preston (Enfield) in the backcourt, with 6-foot-5 inch senior Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior Mike Garrow (Terryville) in the post.  Junior Justin Nunez (Hartford) and freshman Kevin Leumene (Stamford) are the backcourt reserves and freshman Darryl Best (Hamden) will spell Robitaille and Garrow inside.

Salzillo (14.5), Garrow (14.1), and Robitaille (14.0) lead a balanced scoring group, with Preston (11.0) also in double figures. Salzillo, who has connected on at least one three-point field goal in his last 32 games (since going 0-for-3 against UMass Dartmouth Feb. 11 of last year), set a program season record when he canned one Saturday against Keene, giving him 80 in 25 games. Robitaille leads the club in rebounding (8.1), recording the 600th of his career Saturday and enters play Wednesday needing 57 points to reach 1,000 in his four-year career. He is shooting a conference-leading 56.2 percent from the floor.

Garrow and Robitaille are 2012/13 first-team All-LEC selections, with Salzillo and Preston  second-team picks. Preston was additionally honored as LEC Rookie-of-the-Year.

In a 104-77 loss to 20-game winner Albertus Magnus in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinals last week (one week after nipping the Falcons by a pair), Johnson & Wales started one senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, with  freshman guard Quarry Greenway, senior guard Dan Barbour and  6-foot-6 inch junior forward Esaie Touze all having started all 27 of the team's contests.

The game will feature respective conference Rookie-of-the-Year selections in Preston and the 6-foot-3 inch Greenway.

Greenway (15.4) leads a balanced Wildcat offense, followed by freshman guard Tom Garrick (11.6), junior guard Curtis Lucas (10.7) and Barbour (10.3). Touze (8.3) tops the club in rebounding, with Greenway at 7.5  Lucas, Barbour, Garrick and  6-foot-5 inch sophomore swingman have all recorded at least 20 three-point field goals.


Track: Warriors Excel at NE Open Meet



Members of Saturday's record-setting 4x800 meter relay were (above, from left): Nikki Chambers, Akaya McElveen, Cora Gingras and Katie France. (Photo by Jason Edwards)

 Women break 4x800 record for 2nd time this year; Hewett is 9th in 400


BOSTON - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's 4x800 meter relay broke the program record for the second time this year and junior Fredrick Hewett (New London) ran to a ninth-place finish at 400 meters  at the New England Open Track & Field Championships Saturday at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.

In a time of 9:48.40, the women's 4x800 obliterated the record of 10:14.47 that it had set December 8 at Coxe Cage at the Yale University Invitational.  Junior Katie France (Portland) and sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) competed on both record-setting relays this year and were joined Saturday by senior Cora Gingras (Portland) and junior Akaya McElveen (New Haven).

Saturday, Hewett bettered his personal record that he had set a year ago at the Open with a time of 49.39 (1.19 seconds off program record) that left him just .35 seconds from reaching the finals. In a field of 31 competitors, Hewett was the first first Division III runner across the finish line.

In his first time competing in an individual event at the Open, sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) set a personal record with a time of 1:06.63 in the 500 that gave him a 16th-place finish in a field of 30. Running the event for only the second time, Kruppa was just .04 seconds off the program record set in the Open six years ago.

The Eastern men's 4x400 relay was timed in 3:23.95, good enough for 22nd place in a field of 27. Running the relay were Hewett, Kruppa, sophomore D'Vonte Chambers (West Haven) and freshman John Boisette (East Hartford).

Kruppa, Hewett and both relays qualified for this coming weekend's ECAC Division III Championships at the New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City.


M-Basketball: KSC Has Too Much

Undermanned Warriors battle Keene in 79-73 LEC semi loss

robitailleECSU72_3236.jpgPROVIDENCE, R.I. -  If nothing else, Eastern Connecticut State University's 79-73 loss to Keene State College in the semifinals of the 2013 Little East Conference men's basketball tournament Friday night illustrated one undeniable fact: the Warriors will badly miss 6-foot-5 inch senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) next season.

At left: Chris Robitaille works inside against Keene State Friday night.

The lone Eastern senior left standing after recent injuries put point guard Joe Ives (Avon) and guard/forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) out of action,  Robitaille  totaled a career-high 26 points with eight rebounds and three blocks in 38 minutes  as the undermanned Warriors were eliminated in the second of two semifinal games at the Murray Center on the Rhode Island College campus.

Third-seeded Keene (17-10) avenged two regular-season losses at the hands of second-seeded Eastern (19-8) to advance to the final for the seventh time, first since 2007. The Owls are 1-5 in title games.

On Saturday at 5 p.m., Keene will face top-seeded Rhode Island College (24-3), which eliminated fourth-seeded University of Southern Maine (15-12), 61-47, earlier Friday. Eastern had ended RIC's run of two straight LEC tournament titles a year ago by first upending Keene in double overtime in the semifinals, then routing the Anchormen in the title game. Rhode Island, whose only LEC loss this season has come at the hands of Eastern, is making its seventh straight title game showing, with four championships to its credit.

The Warriors trailed by 12 at halftime after Keene sank seven of ten three-pointers over the first 20 minutes and by 13 with 11 minutes left before cutting the gap to four, 70-66, with 3:27 left. At that point, Eric Fazio hit an inside bucket, Tom Doyle sank his only basket of the game on a transition layup off a steal by Jesse LaCroix, and LaCroix stuck a jumper to make it 76-66 with 1:50 left.

Robitaille, the team's only senior to see action, had a game-high point total on 10-of-16 field goal shooting and 6-of-9 free-throw shooting,  with junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) adding 15 (13 in the second half) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) 13 (10 in the second half). Robitaille recorded the 600th rebound of his career in the game, and pulled to within 57 points of 1,000 in his career.

By necessity and for the first time this year, Eastern had each of its starters  play more than 30 minutes.garrowECSU72_3263.jpg

At right: Mike Garrow drives against Keene's Tom Doyle in the first half of Friday's LEC semifinal.

Salzillo, the top three-point shooter in the conference, extended his streak to 32 straight games but was held in check by Keene's Ryan Martin. Salzillo managed only four three-point tries against Martin's hounding defense, with his only successful attempt coming with 3:27 left and pulled the Warriors to within four, 70-66.

The LEC scoring leader, Martin was 5-for-6 from three-point range en route to a team-high 23 points, with 6-foot-10 inch Rashad Wright hitting five of six field goals and collecting 13 points. Keene's Jim Hepple, who did not score in Eastern's two regular-season triumphs and saw only ten minutes of court time, came off the bench for nine points in the first half on 3-for-3 three-point shooting.

In contrast to Eastern, nine Keene players saw double-digit minutes, with only Martin playing more than 30. Led by Fazio - who had sustained a concussion in Eastern's 93-84 overtime victory over the Owls nine days ago, Keene's bench outscored the bench of Eastern, 34-6. Fazio totaled 13 points, nine in the first half.

If Eastern does not receive an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament, the Warriors are expected to receive one of the top four seeds when the ECAC Tournament field is revealed Monday afternoon.



Eastern Athletics Weekly: Friday at 4



A special one-half hour edition of Eastern Athletics Weekly will air on at 4 p.m. Friday from the Murray Center on the campus of Rhode Island College previewing the Little East Conference men's basketball semifinal matchup between No. 2 seed Eastern Connecticut State University (19-7) and No. 3 seed Keene State College (16-10), which gets underway at 8 p.m. Eastern Athletics Weekly co-host and basketball commentator Nick Aconfora (interviewing Mike Garrow above) will host the program, which is devoted to that night's LEC tournament game between the Warriors and Owls. In photo above are five of the key players in the game: Eastern's Garrow (31), Brian Salzillo (10) and Chris Robitaille (background) and Keene's Tre'Tipton and 6-foot-8 inch Montel Walcott (1). Eastern will play without starters Joe Ives (knee injury) and Tyler Hundley (concussion). Ives was lost for his career Jan. 30 against Wesleyan and Hundley left Tuesday's LEC first-round win over Western Connecticut in the opening minutes. Keene's Eric Fazio, one of three 1,000-point scorers for the Owls, is expected to return to action after sitting out two games after being knocked out of the February 13 game against Eastern due to a concussion. Aconfora will be the analyst for veteran LEC play-by-play commentator John Cabral on both of Friday's semifinal games, and will provide play-by-play and work with Rhode Island College's Matt Lopes on Saturday's 5 p.m. championship game. All three tournament games will be broadcast live and later archived on 


M-Lacrosse Eyes Little East Repeat



Above: The Warriors practice in 30 degree weather on the parking lot at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex in preparation for their season-opener. Inset: All-America midfielder Mike Devine.

In 2013, Warriors return plenty in quest for consecutive championships


axel head tie 72_9817.jpgWATCH: Head Coach Justin Axel previews the season (10:09).

LEC Pre-Season Poll.pdf

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The combination of 'talent' and 'intangibles' can carry a team to a championship. Last year, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team had plenty of both, and because of that, rode in unbeaten fashion to their seventh Little East Conference championship in 12 years.

At right: Josh Dubinsky

This year, 24 returning letterwinners - including three of the top five scorers, three starting close defensemen, an experienced long-stick midfielder, and the conference's top faceoff man - indicate that a large dose of talent is back.

And if those 'intangibles' - referred by sixth-year head coach Justin Axel (61-28/.685) as the 'X-Factor' - follow suit, the 2013 edition of Eastern Lacrosse may be hoisting the LEC tournament trophy in consecutive seasons for the first time in nine years.

With their scheduled Feb. 20 opener at Castleton State College postponed due to unplayable field conditions, the Warriors  will instead open a 16-match regular-season schedule by hosting No. 7 nationally-ranked Stevens Tech Feb. 27.

"Our guys had that 'X-Factor' all of last year," noted Axel. "They were down in a lot of games during the year and came right back. They were a team that never got down. They wouldn't let adversity affect them. I really hope," says Axel, "that that (quality) carries over to this year's team as well. It's a hard-working group, and their off-season work ethic is evident. They shoot the ball real well and their sticks have gotten to the next level. And from a team defensive point of view, they're all on the same page."

While many key players from last year's 12-6 team return - nine of them seniors -- the goalie position will be manned by a new starter: either senior Drew Deane (Vernon) or freshman Brendan Gillotti (Danbury). Deane appeared in a career-high eight matches last year but came off the bench in each. His next start between the pipes will be his first at the collegiate level. Gillotti, younger brother of junior Mike Gillotti (Danbury), was a two-time honorable mention all-conference backstop in the competitive FCIAC in high school.

In front of the goalies, the defense returns virtually intact, minus 2012 LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year Tommy Flynn. Senior  captain Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD), who missed all of last year due to injury, steps in for Flynn, however, and will be joined by seniors Jordan Munsell (Waterford) and John DiPietro (Norwalk),  junior captain Chris Brown (Cohasset, MA) and sophomore Travis Tiger (Ridgefield). Brown is a returning first-team All-LEC performer.

Senior Merrick Smith (Stonington),  junior Mike Fanning (Norwell, MA) and sophomore Aaron Daley (Bloomfield) are the team's long-stick midfielders.

Out of the shadow of All-America faceoff specialist Eric Vasil, senior Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) proved himself to be the No. 1 faceoff man in the conference in his first year as a starter and one of the most successful in New England. Dubinsky won 63.5 percent of his faceoffs and set a season record with 395 attempts en route to first-team All-LEC accolades. Dubinsky will be spelled this season by junior Keith Sardo (Ellington), who won 54.0 percent of his attempts at the faceoff  X a year ago.

Top defensive midfielders are senior Munsell  and newcomers Marcel Abonyi (Norwalk) and first-year sophomore transfer Steven Nixon (Foxborough, MA). Abonyi is one of three incoming Brien McMahon graduates on the roster, along with freshmen midfielders Ryan Scott (Norwalk) and Greg Watson (Norwalk).


At left: Kevin Fechtmann

The top midfield line is comprised of honorable mention USILA All-America and captain Mike Devine (Cheshire) - last year's LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year - pre-season NEILA All-New England choice Tyler Fresen (Newington), a junior, and senior captain Kevin Fechtmann (Levittown, NY). Devine shared the LEC lead last year with 46 goals and was fourth in points (58). Also expected to be important contributors to the midfield are Scott, sophomores Dean Accomando (Monroe) and Zach Thresher (Somers) and freshman Liam Murphy (Dover, NH).

Axel feels that the offense is capable of  reaching or exceeding the level of a year ago, when graduated All-New England player Michael Sullinger enjoyed a career season with conference-leading totals of 81 points and 36 assists. Sullinger's worth was never more evident than in the 13-10 victory over two-time defending champion Keene State College in the 2012 LEC championship game, when he had two goals and four assists - setting up Devine twice in a two-minute stretch that helped the top-seeded Warriors erase a three-goal deficit with seven consecutive strikes.

"Our seniors," recalls Axel, "refused to let that team lose."

With a record of 89-10 in 12 years of conference play - by far the best among the eight LEC institutions -- Eastern breezed to the first four LEC regular-season and playoff championships in unbeaten fashion but has not won consecutive tournament titles since that time. In the last eight years, Eastern has reached the final seven times, with three championships to its credit.

The pre-season favorite to capture the title in 2013 (earning six of seven first-place votes), Axel knows what it will take to fulfill that goal: "We have to attack every practice with intensity - like it's a game. We have to respect all  opponents, but fear none."

Junior Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH) is the top returning attackman, having recorded 24 goals and 14 points a year ago. He will be supported by junior Mike Jordan (Cheshire) and freshman Dan Bartram (Wilton), the latter one of three Wilton High products on the roster. Sophomore Devin Callahan (North Kingstown, RI) missed the fall season due to a hip injury but will have an impact at attack when healthy, possibly stepping in for Sullinger as the primary assist man.

The Gillottis are one of three sets of brothers on the team. Drew Deane is joined by freshman midfielder Angus Deane (Vernon) and Kevin Fechtmann is joined by freshman attack Sean Fetchmann (Levittown, NY). The current Fechtmanns follow older brother Brian (2008-11),who helped Eastern to two regular-season and one LEC playoff titles.

The Warriors are scheduled to play eight non-conference matches prior to playing seven of their final eight in the conference. Three of the non-conference opponents are ranked in the pre-season. In addition to Stevens Tech, Amherst College is rated No. 7 and Endicott College No. 9.

Eastern distinguished itself against its most formidable non-conference opponents a year ago but came away without a victory against Stevens (14-10), Endicott College (10-9), Amherst College (13-8) and in the NCAA tournament, Trinity College (13-9). Axel would like to see that change in 2013.

"We need to have some out-of-conference success this year against some of those teams that we were so close to beating last year," points out Axel. "One or two of those wins could really propel this team to that next level."







W-Basketball: Warriors Fall in LEC

Eastern's starters play all but one minute in 65-54 loss to RIC


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A lack of depth has hindered the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball season all year long.

Tuesday night in the opening round of the 2013 Little East Conference tournament, it crippled the Warriors... and ended their season.

At right: Jill Ritrosky drives to the basket in the first half of Tuesday's season-ending loss in the first round of the Little East tournament. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

Playing without freshman post player Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) - who injured her thumb in Saturday's regular-season finale against UMass Boston - the fourth-seeded Warriors could not match the deep bench of No. 5 Rhode Island College and ended their season with a 66-54 loss to the defending conference champions at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

While Rhode Island (16-10) got productivity from nine players, Eastern's (10-16) starters played - incredibly - all but one minute of the game as the Warriors could not repeat their two-point upset of the Anchorwomen of  three weeks ago.

Rhode Island's bench produced 30 points, 21 of them coming from senior forward Ashley O'Dell. O'Dell connected on all five of her three-point field goals and seven of eight shots from the floor in all en route to a game-high 21 points in 30 minutes off the bench.

Eastern dug an early hole in the game, and without re-enforcements, was ill-equipped to stage any sort of comeback. The Warriors missed 18 of their first 20 shots and turned the ball over six times in the first 14 minutes of the game and limped into the half on the short end of a 41-25 score.

 Eastern was unable to cut the gap to single figures in the second half, but twice were within a point of doing that in the final three-plus minutes. A driving layup by sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) with 3:26 left made it 62-52, but after a steal by freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA), Eastern missed two free throws. Moments later, sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) drained a jumper to again make it a ten-point game, and the Warriors re-gained possession after an RIC miss, but couldn't convert on two inside chances.

Attempting to score its points inside, the Warriors attempted only one three-pointer in the game and were outscored by 21 points from behind the arc.

Ritrosky (16 points, 13 rebounds) and McCourt (16 points, 14 rebounds, 10-for-12 from the foul line) both had double-doubles for Eastern, with freshman guard Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) adding ten points and six rebounds and McBride a season-high ten points with five assists, four rebounds and three steals.

M-Basketball: Warriors in LEC Semis

No. 2 Eastern shakes No. 7 Western, 65-54; faces Keene State Friday


Tournament Central

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team never trailed after the opening minute but was never able to completely shake free until the final minute of play before finally posting a 65-54 victory over Western Connecticut State University in the first round of the 2013 Little East Conference Tournament at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Eastern's Chris Robitaille (40) adds to his team-leading block total by denying Western's Leroy Mayers in the first half of Tuesday's LEC tournament win. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

In moving to within a win of its fourth straight 20-win season, second-seeded Eastern (19-7) moves into the tournament semifinal round for the fourth straight season and will face third-seeded Keene State College Friday night at 8 p.m. in the second of two semifinal-round games at the Murray Center on the Rhode Island College campus.

Eastern equals its longest winning streak of the season (six) while Western (5-21) ends its season on a six-game slide.

 Keene also struggled before eliminating sixth-seeded Plymouth State University, 62-56, Tuesday night at Keene, NH. Top-seeded Rhode Island College hosts fourth-seeded University of Southern Maine in Friday's first semifinal at 6 p.m.. Rhode Island slipped past visiting eighth-seeded Massachusetts Dartmouth, 62-56, while Southern Maine routed visiting fifth-seeded Massachusetts Boston, 85-65.

As the No. 1 seed last year, Eastern  got past Keene in double overtime in the semifinals at Geissler Gym, then routed defending champion Rhode Island in the final in a re-match of the 2011 title game.

Four starters finished in double figures Tuesday for Eastern, and sophomore Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) came off the bench after an early injury to senior starter Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) to contribute  a career-high 11 rebounds and add seven rebounds in 33 minutes.

Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) shared game-high scoring honors with 14 points each, with Robitaille grabbing a game-high ten rebounds - his third straight double-double and fifth in the last seven games.

Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) added 11 points and six rebounds.

Salzillo connected on an early three-pointer to extend his streak to 31 games over two seasons, then tied the program season record with his 79th long-range basket in the second half.

Western never led after the first minute but bounced back from a nine-point deficit midway though the first half on a three-point field goal from senior guard Michael Jensen and a bucket and later a free throw from junior guard Joseph Setaro and trailed by only four at the break.

The Warriors scored eight points in a row - three on Salzillo's second three-pointer of the game and five free throws over a two-minute span by Yarborough -- to  move out to their largest lead, 16, with eight minutes left. Western pulled  within seven on three occasions thereafter, but each time, Eastern answered. Preston sank two free throws the first time and an inside bucket the second time. With the lead again cut to seven with just under two minutes left, Robitaille dropped in an inside basket on a pass from junior guard Justin Nunez (Hartford), then converted two free throws after rebounding a missed Western three-pointer to makde it 62-51 with 1:28 left.

Freshman guard Phil Starks led Western with 12 points, junior forward Mark Laporte adding 11 and Jensen six points and five rebounds.

Robitaille, Salzillo and Nunez all recorded four assists for the Warriors, with Preston adding three steals.

After losing senior starting guard Joe Ives (Avon) for the season due to a knee injury seven games ago, the Warriors lost Hundley less than two minutes into the game when he split his lip. Hundley received stitches and did not return to the game. His status for the remainder of the season remains uncertain.

Eastern swept Keene State during the regular season, most recently last Wednesday, 93-84, in overtime.

Eastern Athletics Weekly Tuesday/12:30


This week's edition of Eastern Athletics Weekly will air Tuesday, Feb. 19 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. on, originating from the Sports Center's Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Hosts Nick Aconfora, Sean Harrison and Nick Minutelli will preview Tuesday night's Little East Conference women's and men's basketball first-round home games against Rhode Island College and Western Connecticut, respectively. The Eastern women split the regular-season series against Rhode Island College while the men swept the Colonials. Joining the broadcast team will be representatives from the women's and men's coaching staffs. The show will also preview the 2013 Eastern men's lacrosse season, which gets underway Wednesday against Castleton State College at 4 p.m. at Castleton, VT. Joining the broadcast team will be Eastern senior defenseman John DiPietro. The show is archived immediately upon its completion in the "Recent Archives" section of

Eastern's Indoor Triathlon March 3

By Jonathan Mizger

mizger_triathlon_story72dpi.jpgEastern Connecticut State University's track & field squad, alongside Newington Bike, will be sponsoring the Indoor Triathlon at Eastern's Sports Center this Sunday, March 3 at  9 a.m.

Above: Jonathan Reik, the current world triathlon champion in the 60-64 age group, will participate in Eastern's indoor triathlon in March. With Reik, from left, are Shaina Short, Beth Landry and Eastern head track and field coach Kathy Manizza. (Photo courtesy of Steve McLaughlin).

This will be the third fundraising event that the track & field team has done this year. The track team had a marathon relay in the fall and is involved in the athletic department raffle.

In her first season at Eastern, track & field coach Kathy Manizza is a triathlon member of the Newington Bike Club and got the chance to get the club to help out with the team's fundraising project.

"I know the guys that run the Newington Bike Shop and this summer they said would you have any interest in doing something [here] in the winter and give people an opportunity to stay involved in triathlon in the colder months," said Manizza of the event, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 10 but was postponed to the current date due to snow. "They came out in October-November and they checked out our facility, our pool, the lobby, and the gym, and we came up with a plan that's kind of unique."

The event will involve  up to 72 people competing in swimming, biking, and running. There will be six waves of 12 people competing to start out the event. The first athletic event will take place in the Sports Center pool, followed by using the bikes inside Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium, and then running inside the same gym. The six waves were based on the size of the athletic facility and the pool.

The final wave will involve a "team" division of students and faculty.

As the first wave finishes in the pool and transitions to the bikes, the second wave will enter the pool, and will continue until the sixth wave finishes in the gym. Each participant must arrive at the Sports Center 30 minutes before his or her wave.

Each participant must bring his or her own bike and the Newington Bike Shop's trainers will provide the necessary measuring tools to calculate the mileage.

Manizza pointed out that this triathlon is no ordinary one: triathlons are normally based upon how far you go, this one will measure how long you go. Each participant at this triathlon will spend 20 minutes in the pool, 20 minutes on the bikes, and 20 minutes in the gym.

The Eastern track team will be escorting each athlete by counting the number of laps in the pool, in the gym, and measure the mileage on the bikes.

Each participant will get a scorecard based on his or her performance in each event. Each participant will be performing in the same time of 20 minutes in each event, but their score will be determined by how far they go. There will be a first, second, and third place for males and a first, second, and third place for females.

"It's a fun, different twist combining all three of the sports: swim, bike, run," said Manizza. "It's a different way to do it and a way to keep people involved in the winter."

Each participant will pay an entry fee of $35 and a portion of the money will go to the track & field program. Anyone interested in participating can register at

Manizza views the event in two ways: a fundraiser and a way to get the community involved at Eastern.

"The one thing that I like about the triathlon is its bringing new people in," said Manizza. "With both the marathon relay and the raffle tickets, we may be asking the same people to support our program. [The triathlon] is bringing in 72 new people that some of them may start supporting Eastern track and Eastern athletics."

Eastern's track & field team is excited to have a fun day with the 72 participants, who will have a great opportunity to visit Eastern and get in a good hard workout .


Track: Hultzman Repeats as All-NE

Reynolds breaks men's 60 hurdles record for third time this season

hultzman_72_8373.jpgJunior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) achieved All-New England honors for the second straight year in the high jump and sophomore Andre Reynolds (Hartford) broke the men's 60 meter hurdles record for the third time this year Saturday at the New England Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

At left: Lauren Hultzman

Competing at the Costello Athletic Complex on the campus of the University of Southern Maine for the second straight week, Hultzman gained the only point for the women or men in the competition with an eighth-place finish in the high jump  with a mark of 5-2 ¼. The height was ¾ of an inch off the program record which she shares and which she attained at the New England Open Championships as a sophomore.

Hultzman was one of six competitors to clear the bar at 5-2 ¼. Julie Eagle of WPI won the New England title with a jump of 5-6, followed by three participants reaching 5-4 ¼, and six at 5-2 ¼.

Hultzman competed in the event in this meet for the third straight year. As a freshman, she was 12th (5-0 ¼) and last year gained All-New England honors for the first time with an identical mark of 5-2 ¼ which netted her a fourth-place finish.

reynolds 72NE_2885.jpgAt left: Andre Reynolds

At the New England Division III men's championships at Bates College's Walter Slovenski Track, Reynolds broke the program's 60 meter hurdles record for the third time this season with a time of  8.66 in the preliminaries. Reynolds, who broke the record twice earlier this year in times of 8.87 (season-opener at the Reggie Lewis Center) and 8.78 (Jan. 26 at Springfield College), was third in his heat Saturday, missing out on a spot in the final by .04.

As a freshman, Reynolds also competed in the preliminaries  of the 60 hurdles at the New England Division III Championships, clocking a time of 9.25.

Participating in the meet for the second time in his two-year career,  junior Fredrick Hewett (New London) was timed in 7.27 in the preliminaries of  the 60 meters and finished 14th in a field of 24 with a time of 51.43 in the 400. Hewett was timed in 7.19 in the 60 preliminaries last year and placed tenth in the 400 in a time of  51.45.

Additional Eastern Results:

Sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) was 13th in the 600 (1:26.60) and 15th in the long jump (19-8).

Sophomore Luisantonio Rosado (Ponce, P.R.) clocked a 9.21 in a 22nd-place finish in the 60 hurdles.

The 4x400 relay of Reynolds, sophomore D'Vonte Chambers (West Haven), Kruppa and Hewett was 14th in a time of 3:34.28.

Senior Cora Gingras (Portland) and Hultzman finished ninth and tenth, respectively, in Friday's pentathlon. In a field of 14, Gingras totaled 2,790 points, Hultzman 2,780. Gingras was on pace to break Hulzman's program record of 2,859 points which she set at last year's championships, but twisted her ankle at the start of the 800 - the final event - and placed 12th.

Gingras shared first place in the high jump, was seventh in the 55 hurdles, tenth in the long jump and 12th in the shot put to go along with her 12th-place finish in the 800. Hultzman also shared first place in the high jump, was seventh in the shot put and long jump, eighth in the 55 hurdles and 13th in the 800.

Gingras was 14th in the triple jump (33-11 ½) and freshman Shanique Bunsie (Bridgeport) 14th in the shot put (35-4 ½).

Sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton), the program recordholder in the 600, was 24th in the 800 (2:28.82).

The 4x200 relay was 16th (1:54.29) and the 4x400 17th (4:18.28). Running the 4x200 were juniors Tacia Bryant (Guilford) and Amy Huhn (Hebron), freshman Sherry Gilronan (Darien) and Chambers. The 4x400 was made up of junior Akaya McElveen (New Haven), Bryant, Gilronan and Chambers.

W-Basketball: Beacons Turn Tables

No. 4 seeded Warriors will host No. 5 seed RIC Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. 

By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff


Tournament Central

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team could not come back from a nine-point halftime deficit as the University of Massachusetts Boston held on to the victory and split the Little East Conference season series 59-47 Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium on the final day of the regular season.

In a two-game split with UMass Boston this year, Shannon McCourt (above) had 38 points and 20 rebounds. (Photo by Jennifer Catone).

Six-foot freshman Olivia Murphy, a top candidate for LEC Rookie-of-the-Year honors,  scored 14 points of the bench in 26 minutes as UMass Boston (14-11, 6-8 Little East) won for only the second time in its final six regular-season games. Eastern (10-15), 8-6 Little East) had won three of its last four and five of its last seven entering play.

The outcome of the game did not affect UMass Boston's No. 6 LEC tournament seed nor did it affect Eastern's guarantee of  hosting a first-round LEC tournament game Tuesday. With a win, Eastern could have nailed down the No. 3 seed, but instead will be the No. 4  seed and will host fifth-seeded Rhode Island College at 5:30 p.m. UMass will visit third-seeded Massachusetts Dartmouth Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

The Warriors never led after eight minutes and four seconds left in the first half as they were tied with the Beacons 16-16.

The Warriors had to play comeback kids from being down 29-20 at halftime. Foul trouble, missed opportunities on offensive rebounds, and turnovers sealed the Warriors from getting past the Beacons, who rebounded from an earlier 17-point home loss to Eastern.

Sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) of the Warriors recorded 18 points, shooting 7-12 from the field, 4-7 from free throws before fouling out with 4:51 left in the game; she had one personal foul in the first half and four personal fouls in the second half.

Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) of the Warriors posted ten points with four assists, five rebounds, and seven turnovers.

Up 39-26 with 16:09 left in the game, the Beacons outplayed the Warriors with fast break points off turnovers, rebounding, and their depth.

UMass-Boston had 11 steals and scored 16 points off turnovers. The Beacons are second in steals in the LEC averaging 10.1 per game. The Warriors recorded five steals against the Beacons and are in eighth in steals in the LEC averaging 6.3 per game.

The bench play by the Beacons was unstoppable. UMass-Boston's bench players scored 30 points to Eastern Connecticut State's three points. Murphy shot 6-12 from the field, 2-6 from free throws, and 6 rebounds.

UMass Boston leads the LEC in offensive rebounds,  Eastern ranking sixth. In the game, the Beacons outrebounded the Warriors offensively, 24-14, which led to 18 second chance points by the Beacons over 12 second chance points over the Warriors.

On Senior Day, post player Jaymie Sommers (Voluntown) of the Warriors was inserted with 1:09 left in the game, recording a defensive rebound. Sommers was honored by the team at the end of the game.

UMass-Boston's senior Teresa Pina recorded three points, ten rebounds, two assists and two steals.


M-Basketball Routs UMB, Is No. 2 Seed

In finale, Warriors set program record with 12th Little East victory


VIEW Cris Yarborough photos

Tournament Central

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team capitalized on virtually every one of the University of Massachusetts Boston's ten turnovers on the way to a 74-44 Little East Conference victory on the final day of the regular season Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: In a season-high 23 minutes, Justin Nunez had four assists, three steals, three rebounds and three points in Saturday's win. (Photo by Jennifer Catone)

Eastern (18-7, 12-2 Little East) concludes the regular season on a five-game winning streak and with victories in 11 of its last 13 and with a program record for regular-season conference wins. Rhode Island College clinched the regular-season title outright and the tournament's No. 1 seed with an 86-64 road victory over Keene State College. A Rhode Island loss would have given the Warriors a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 tournament seed for the second straight season.

As the No. 2 seed, Eastern will host No. 7 seed Western Connecticut State University Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round LEC tournament game. Guaranteed to be a No. 5 seed heading into the game, UMass Boston (12-12, 6-8 Little East) visits No. 4 seed University of Southern Maine in a first-round game Tuesday.

UMass gave the ball away only ten times in the game, but Eastern made the Beacons pay every time by responding with 19 points off those miscues - nine in the first half and ten in the second. The visitors totaled only eight points off the hosts' 11 turnovers.

Leading by 13 at halftime, Eastern secured its eighth straight win over UMass Boston when freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) connected on three-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half as the Warriors quickly built a 17-point lead. UMass never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.

Salzillo, senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and Preston combined for 45 of Eastern's points (18-for-35 field goal shooting). Salzillo led all players with 16 - extending his three-point streak to 30 games with his first of four from long range with 8:32 left in the first half. Robitaille had his fourth double-double in six games with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, with Preston amassing 14 points. Salzillo submitted one of his finest efforts in an Eastern uniform by adding a career-high seven assists and also six rebounds with just one turnover in 32 minutes.

The point total equaled the lowest of the season for UMass, matching its output Dec. 4 at  MIT, the sixth-ranked team in the NCAA Northeast Region.

Robitaille and forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) were participating in the final regular-season home games of their careers, but fellow senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) had his career ended Jan. 30 when he sustained a knee injury against Wesleyan at Geissler Gym.  Hundley chipped in seven points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot in 17 minutes in a starting role.

Sophomore guard Vinny DeLucia was UMass' only double-figure scorer, with 14 points. DeLucia had led the Beacons to a near-upset of Eastern Jan. 12 when he shared game-high scoring honors with 23 points in his team's three-point loss. Sophomore post player Brian Clarke contributed seven points and seven rebounds for UMass.

Western entered play Saturday in sixth place in the conference -- one game ahead of Plymouth State University -- but was beaten, 78-59, at Plymouth that forged a two-way tie for sixth. Western lost a tie-breaker that relegated the Colonials to the No. 7 seed.

The Warriors swept the Colonials for the first time every in 26 years of LEC play this year, winning 64-51 12 days ago at Geissler Gym. 


W-Basketball: Eastern Solves Owls

Down by nine at the half, Warriors surge to Little East win, 67-55


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team overcame a nine-point halftime deficit by shooting 50 percent from the floor and sinking 18 of  23 free throws in the second half in a 67-55 Little East Conference victory over Keene State College Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Freshman Jill Ritrosky drives to the basket for two her 13 second-half points Wednesday night against Keene State. (Jon Mizger photo)

With one conference game left in the regular season, Eastern (10-14, 8-5 Little East) maintains a share of third place with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and remains a game ahead of Rhode Island College in the race for the fourth seed and a first-round LEC tournament home game Tuesday.

A winner of six of its last seven against Keene (9-15, 3-10 Little East), the Warriors complete the season sweep of the Owls, who are unofficially assured the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament and will visit the No. 2 seed in Tuesday's first round.

While Eastern was shooting under 27 percent in the first half, Keene shot nearly 50 percent  - getting 13 points from freshman guard Kelsey Cognetta  - in rolling up a 31-22 halftime lead. In the second half, however, Eastern sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) and freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) combined for 27 points (9-for-14 from the floor) and 13 rebounds to spark the Warriors to their fifth win in the last seven games and push them over .500 (6-5) at Geissler Gym.

A pair of free throws from freshman post player Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) pulled Eastern event eight minutes into the second half and a free throw from Forsman and an inside basket by Ritrosky pushed the Warriors into the lead for good, 40-37, a minute later.

Keene, limited to 14 first-half points in an 18-point loss to Eastern  at home Jan. 22, equaled that total seven minutes into Wednesday's game and led by as many as 12 in the first half.  Cognetta converted all five of her field goals (2-for-2 from "three" in the half, finishing with 16 points  in the game on 6-for-6 field goals shooting. Senior Siobhan Carnell  led Keene with 17 points but needed 25 field goal attempts to reach that figure.

Ritrosky led Eastern with 17 points (7-for-11 field goals) and 12 rebounds and Forsman added 16 points and a career-tying nine rebounds in 40 minutes, with Leonard scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Brooks, who played 27 minutes in place of foul-plagued sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) had career-highs of 11 points and ten rebounds. Forsman was 8-for-10 from the foul line and Brooks 5-for-7 as the Warriors outscored the visitors by 20 from the stripe.

It was only the second time this season that Eastern has overcome a halftime deficit to win, following a three-point overtime triumph over UMass Dartmouth Jan. 8 at Geissler Gym after it trailed by 11 at the break.

Eastern hosts University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. in the final regular-season home game of the year.


M-Basketball: Warriors Withstand Owls

After allowing game-tying three-pointer, Warriors prevail in OT


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team scored 16 of its 22 overtime points from the free throw line to post its fourth straight Little East Conference win, 93-84, over Keene State College Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Brian Salzillo struggled from the floor Wednesday night against Keene, but was 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds of overtime. (Photo by Jon Mizger).

In overtime, Eastern (17-7, 11-2 Little East), scored eight consecutive points to break the fifth and final tie of the game and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville)  combined to sink 12 free throws over the five-minute extra session.

With  its tenth win in its last 12 games, Eastern equals its conference regular-season win total of a year ago by downing Keene State (15-9, 9-4 Little East) - the pre-season LEC favorite -  for the ninth time in last ten meetings.

With one regular-season LEC game left, Eastern continues to trail Rhode Island College by one game. The Anchormen defeated host Western Connecticut, 69-60, Wednesday night. However, by virtue of tie-breakers, Eastern will earn the No. 1 tournament seed if it wins Saturday and Rhode Island loses. Eastern hosts Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 3 p.m. in its final game of the regular season, while Rhode Island visits Keene State.

Keene, which lost for only the third time in 12 games on its opponents' home court this year, remains in third place in the conference, two games back of Eastern and one ahead of the University of Southern Maine.

Garrow (9-for-10 from the foul line) led all players with 25 points and added seven rebounds and two steals, while freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) had 20 points and six assists, Salzillo 17 points (7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds of overtime)and senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) 15 points and a career-tying 14 rebounds.

Preston's jumper had given Eastern a three-point lead with 1:19 left in regulation but the Warriors gave the ball back with a missed shot and freshman guard Tre' Tipton tied the game with 14 seconds left with a corner three-pointer. The Warriors couldn't convert two shots in the paint as the horn ending regulation sounded.

The LEC leader in three-point field goal percentage, the Warriors experienced a rare off-night from downtown, which played a large part in their inability to distance themselves from Keene until overtime. Eastern missed 17 of 20 from long range in the game, including all 11 of their bombs after the break.

Salzillo's tossed in his first three-pointer late in the first half to cut a four-point Keene lead to one -- giving him at least one in his last 29 games -- and he hit another three minutes later to put the hosts in front until just 4:22 remained in regulation.

Sophomore guard Tom Doyle led Keene with 20 points and a team-high ten rebounds, and senior forward Eric Fazio 18 points (8-for-10 from the foul line). Fazio's free throw with 13:25 left in regulation represented his 1,000th career point, but he was forced to leave the game for good with 4:15 left in regulation after being flattened in drawing a charge from Garrow in the paint.


EAW To Air Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.



From left: Smoragiewicz, Bierly, Geitner

Eastern Athletics Weekly -- Eastern Connecticut State University's weekly student-run sports talk show -- airs live from Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium Wednesday between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. on This week's show, co-hosted by Nick Aconfora and Nick Minutelli, features guest basketball coaches Denise Bierly and Bill Geitner and sophomore swimmer Kayla Smoragiewicz. With the basketball season winding down, Bierly and Geitner will look back at the 2012/13 regular-season and preview Wednesday night's Little East Conference home games against Keene State College, and ahead to the Little East Conference playoffs, which get underway next Tuesday evening. Smoragiewicz will close out the show  reflecting upon her team's second-place finish in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships this past weekend at White River Junction, VT. Upon completion of the live broadcast, the show can be accessed in the "Recent Archives" section on the website. Wednesday night's  Keene State women's and men's games kick off at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, on, with the pre-game show hosted by Aconfora and starting 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each contest.

M-Basketball:For Starters,Warriors Roll

Against UMD, they reach ten LEC victories for third straight year


At left: Tyler Hundley

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Junior guard Mike Garrow (Terryville) was one of five starters to find double figures in points as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team won for the eighth time in ten games on its opponents' court with a 78-59 Little East Conference triumph over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Monday night at the Tripp Athletic Center.

With the win, defending LEC regular-season and tournament champion Eastern (16-7, 10-2 Little East) remains one game behind conference leader Rhode Island College. The Warriors close out with home games against Keene State College Wednesday and UMass Boston Saturday while the Anchormen  visit Western Connecticut Wednesday and Keene State College Saturday. Now 2-11 at home, UMass (4-19, 1-11 Little East) remains in the LEC cellar.

Eastern reached double figures in LEC regular-season wins for the third straight season - the first three double-figure LEC win seasons in 26 years of competition. It also represents the fourth straight regular-season LEC sweep of UMass Dartmouth - the first time it has been accomplished by an Eastern senior class.

Garrow and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) sparked a 47-point second half which allowed the Warriors to pull away from a two-point halftime lead. Garrow was 9-for-9 from the foul line en route to 13 second-half points while Preston nailed half of his eight field goals and finished with ten.

A 12-point first half lead disappeared over the final eight minutes of the opening half and the Warriors needed a jumper from Preston in the final seconds - moments after the resumption of play following a ten-minute delay due to a power outage -- to generate  a two-point halftime edge.

Garrow led all scorers with 19 points, senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) adding 15 points,  Preston 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists, senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) 12 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) ten points and three assists. Salzillo converted a three-point field goal in the first half to extend his streak of at least one in 28 straight games. His two three-pointers in the game give him 71 on the season and move him into second place, eight behind the season record-holder. 

Hundley was 4-for-6 from the floor, 2-for-2 from long range and 2-for-3 from the stripe and did not turn the ball over. In the most protracted appearance of his young career, freshman post player Darryl Best (Hamden) contributed six points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in 19 minutes off the bench.

The conference's second-leading defensive team, Eastern  gave up only one field goal (a three-pointer) and five points over a four-minute stretch in the second half while scoring 18 of its own to take the lead for good and move out to a 12-point, 55-43 lead with 11 minutes left. In keeping with this year's pattern, the three-point field goal sparked the decisive run, with Preston chipping in both of his, Salzillo his only one of the second half and Hundley's second of two in the half.

The Warriors were 6-of-11 from three-point range, dropped in 20 of 25 free throws, and turned the ball over only nine times.

Eastern has now limited six of its last seven conference opponents to 60 or less points.

Eastern hosts Keene State College Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.  -30-

W-Basketball: UMD Trips Warriors

They can't distance themselves from Corsairs in LEC in 66-50 loss


At left: Jill Ritrosky

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Six-foot-two inch Erika Bornemann scored 16 of her 19 points in the second half when the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shot 61.5 percent from the floor in a 66-50 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Monday night at the Tripp Athletic Center.

With its first conference loss in the last five games, Eastern (9-14, 7-5 Little East) falls into a two-way tie for third place in the conference with UMass (17-6, 7-5 Little East), which has won five of its last six.

Behind Bornemann (6-for-10), UMass Dartmouth shot 61.5 percent from the floor in a 42-point second half - equaling the most points allowed by the Warriors in a half this season - to earn its second straight regular-season split with Eastern after being swept the previous 16 straight seasons.

While both teams struggled from the floor in the first half following a five-day snow-induced layoff, the Corsairs found their bearings in the second half while Eastern never got fully untracked after missing 18 of 25 attempts from the field and turning the ball over12 times in the first 20 minutes.

Now 10-2 at home this season, UMass got a game-high 21 points from LEC scoring leader Colleen Moriarty, who was limited to 12 points when the Warriors handed the Corsairs only their second loss in their first 12 games in a 54-51 overtime victory a month ago at Geissler Gymnasium. While her teammates struggled in the first half, the 6-foot-1 inch Moriarty carried the load by scoring 14 of her squad's 24 points on 7-for-10 marksmanship from the floor.

The Warriors led by six points nine minutes into the game but were limited to only five points the rest of the half and trailed by seven at the break when Bornemann broke through for her first points of the stanza on a three-point field goal inside the final 30 seconds.

Bornemann's inside bucket opened the second half and pushed UMD's  lead to nine and the Warriors were never able to get closer than five the rest of the way. The hosts sank five of their game total of six three-pointers over the final 20 minutes, with Bornemann sticking two of her game total of four from long range and Kelsey Garrity one in the first 3:30 of the second half.

In Eastern's overtime victory over UMass, Bornemann grabbed a team-high ten rebounds but was held to just four points in 35 minutes, missing all four of her three-point tries.

Eastern freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) enjoyed her second strong game this year against UMass, totaling a team and career-high 20 points (her eight straight double-figure game) and grabbing six rebounds. Ritrosky had her most productive collegiate game to that point earlier against UMass with game-highs of 14 points and 15 rebound and only one turnover in 35 minutes. Sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) added her first double-double in eight games with ten points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The pair accounted for 30 of the team's 50 points.

Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had eight points and nine rebounds, helping the visitors to a decisive 43-30 advantage on the boards.

Eastern hosts Keene State College Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in a conference game.



W-Hoop: Leonard LEC Double Winner

Freshman accorded rare honor as both Player and Rookie-of-the-Week

leonard_72_9213.jpgleonard_head_72_2764.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - On the basis of one game, Eastern Connecticut State University freshman Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) has been accorded the rare honor as both the Little East Conference Player and Rookie-of-the-Week for the week ending Feb. 10

In the only game of the week this past Tuesday, Leonard scored the most points (28) by a freshman in a Little East women's basketball game this year in leading the Warriors to a 70-55 victory over visiting Western Connecticut State University.

The win was the fourth straight in conference play for Eastern and ended Western's nine-game overall winning streak. In addition to her game and season-high points total, Leonard also led both teams with ten rebounds for her second double-double of the year. Leonard scored 18 of Eastern's 39 second-half points. In the game, she was 11-for-15 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the foul line in playing the entire 40 minutes.

The weekly tribute follows her selection a week ago as LEC Rookie-of-the-Week. In a 1-1 week, the 5-foot-8 inch Leonard led the Warriors with a 14.5 scoring average and .611 field goal percentage and was second in rebounding (5.5)  and free throw percentage (.700) without a turnover in 60 minutes en route to the first weekly LEC honor of her career.

In her last three games, Leonard is averaging 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds with a .667 (22-for-33) field goal percentage and .722 free throw percentage. She has commited only two turnovers in 100 minutes in those three games.

Among freshmen in the conference, Leonard ranks second in field goal percentage, third in scoring and fourth in rebounding.

Eastern has won four of its last five overall to improve to 9-13 and has captured seven of its last nine conference games since dropping its opening pair.

Now in third place in the conference, Eastern was scheduled to visit Massachusetts Dartmouth Monday night at 5:30 p.m. in a game originally scheduled for this past Saturday.

The Warriors posted a 54-51 overtime win over the Corsairs when the teams met a month ago in Willimantic, handing the visitors only their second loss in their first 12 games.



Track: Nine Earn All-NEA/LEC Honors

They combine to earn recognition a total of 19 times; Hewett wins 55


GORHAM, Maine --  Junior Fredrick Hewett (New London) became the seventh individual from Eastern Connecticut State University in the last ten years to win the 55 meter dash at the Little East Conference/New England Alliance  Indoor Track & Field Championships Sunday at the Costello Athletic Complex on the campus of the University of Southern Maine.

At right: Fredrick Hewett

Hewett did not compete in the 55 in last year's championships in his first season at Eastern, but outran a field of nine Little East Conference performers to become the only Eastern male or female to win an event at the 16th annual championships, which were delayed one day due to snow.

In a field of 28 LEC and NEA competitors, Hewett won his heat and was third in the preliminaries with a time of 6.66 in the 55. Hewett was the only LEC runner to advance to the final, and his time of 6.84 in the final placed him eighth overall in NEA scoring.

The NEA is comprised of  ten institutions, six from the LEC and four from the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC). The top eight individuals and first three relays in NEA scoring are accorded All-NEA honors while the top three individuals and first two relays gain All-LEC recognition.

The Eastern men finished last in both the LEC and NEA computations and while the Eastern women were fourth in the LEC and eighth in the NEA.

The University of Southern Maine women edged Keene State College by four points to claim their13th straight LEC title and 14th in 15 years and managed a three-point victory over the Owls to win their 13th straight NEA championship in 16 years.

gingras Zoomraw_2870.jpgThe University of Southern Maine men won their ninth LEC crown (fourth in five years) with an 80-point margin over runner-up Rhode Island College, and Bridgewater State University won its first NEA men's championship ever - becoming the first MASCAC institution to take the title since 2003 - with a 13.5 point victory over Southern Maine.

At left: Cora Gingras

Nine Eastern Connecticut athletes combined to earn All-LEC or All-NEA honors a total of 19 times. Hewett was a four-time honoree in the 55 and 400, repeating his third-place finish at 400 meters in the NEA and second-place finish in the LEC from a year ago.

Senior Cora Gingras (Portland) was also earned all-conference honors four times: twice in the high jump (4-11 ¾) and twice in the triple jump (35-1/1 ½ inches shy of the Eastern record).  Gingras was second in the triple jump in both scoring, and in the high jump was tied for third in

the LEC and tied for fourth in the NEA.  Indoors, Gingras has earned All-LEC or All-NEA honors a total of eight times.

Earning All-LEC and All-NEA recognition in one event each were juniors Laura Hultzman (Putnam) and Amy Huhn (Hebron), and sophomores Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) and Andre Reynolds (Hartford).

 Now a four-time All-LEC and All-NEA achiever in her career in the high jump, Hultzman was tied for third in the LEC and tied for fourth in the NEA Sunday in that event with a mark of 4-11 ¾.  Last year, Hultzman became the first female to win the conference high jump championship.

After finishing fifth as a freshman and sophomore in the pole vault in the NEA scoring, Huhn was fourth this year with a mark of 9-6 1/4 and equaled LEC champion Alexandra O'Brien's winning mark, but placed second on jumps in the LEC scoring.

In a field of 14 NEA competitors in the 800, Chambers was nosed out for first place by less than half a second by Keene State's Lauren Markoe, clocking a time of 2:20.33 which gave her second place in both scoring computations.

Seventh in the NEA as a freshman in the 55 hurdles, Reynolds repeated those honors with a fourth-place finish in a time of 8.10, which was good enough for third place in the LEC.

Earning conference recognition for the first time Sunday were juniors Katie France (Portland) and Akaya McElveen (New Haven) and sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington). In NEA competition, France was seventh in the mile (5:31.05) and McElveen eighth in the 400  (1:01.57) while Kruppa was eighth in the 600 (1:25.26).

Eastern competes in the New England Division III Championships this weekend, the women at the Costello Athletic Complex and the men at Bates College.



Swim Nets Best NEISDA Finish Ever

17 individuals contribute points as Warriors capture second place

Complete Results.htm                  Eastern's Finishers.pdf

swimteam72dpi_0493.jpgWHITE RIVER JCT., Vt. --  Individuals were named All-New England a total of 22 times and all five relays earned identical  honors as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team recorded program-bests with a second-place finish and a total of 1,136.5 points in a 21-team field at the three-day New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Division II-III Championships which concluded Sunday night at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center.

Eastern, which had a previous program-high finish of third in 2009/10, moved into second place ahead of Roger Williams University for good after outscoring the Hawks 63-20 in the 13th event of the championships (100 yard backstroke) Saturday evening. Division II institutions Bentley University (the 2012 champion) and Assumption College - two of the three teams to finish ahead of Eastern last year -- did not compete in the championships this season.

In a three-team race, Keene State College captured the title with 1,593 points. Eastern holds a 129-point advantage over Roger Williams, heading into next weekend's diving portion of the championships (Eastern does not offer diving). Diving events were  postponed this weekend due to snow and have been re-scheduled for next weekend at Plymouth State University. Keene, Eastern and Roger Williams were the only institutions to collect as many as 1,000 points.

Eight Eastern individual and relay records were set in the meet. Junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) broke her own records in the 50 (28.56) and 200 (2:12.06 backstroke, and all three breaststroke records fell, as did three relays. 

Senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) broke the 200 breaststroke record  in Sunday afternoon's final in a time of 2:29.36 after sophomore Rachael Thatcher (Newington) had broken it in Sunday's preliminary (Thatcher also broke her own record in Sunday's final). Freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) broke the three-year old 50 breaststroke (31.10) record  Friday and her own 100 breaststroke (1:08.95)  record Saturday.

The program's 400 medley relay record fell in a time of 4:07.97 Friday, and the 200 medley relay (1:52.52) and 800 freestyle relay (8:07.84) records were broken Saturday.


At left: Becky Odgers

Seventeen individuals contributed points in individual events. Schapp led the way with 75, junior Becky Odgers (Shelton) adding 74, Katie King and junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) adding 73, junior Marissa Colley (East Haven) 70, junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia,NY) 68, O'Kelly 64, sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) 62, Thatcher 60, and junior Colleen King (Barkamsted) 59.

The top eight individuals and first four relays in each events are accorded All-New England honors. Schapp, Odgers and Katie King all swam to regional honors in each of their three individual events, with O'Kelly, McVeigh, Tromp, Colley, Colleen King and Smoragiewicz earning the honor twice.

All five relays earned All-New England honors, none of them finishing lower than fourth. Schapp and McVeigh added All-New England accolades with four relays each, Odgers and Smoragiewicz with three, Colley and Katie King with two and Colleen King and freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) with one each.

McVeigh's second-place finish in the 200 freestyle Saturday was the highest individual finish by an Eastern swimmer in the championship, with Katie King's record-setting time in the 50 breaststroke and Schapp's record-setting mark in the 50 backstroke Sunday representing third-place finishes. Gaining fourth-place finishes were Colley in the 200 backstroke Friday, O'Kelly with her record time Sunday in the 200 breaststroke and Tromp in the 100 individual medley Sunday.

In the meet, the Warriors registered 272 of its points thanks to its relays, with  99 points coming from five individuals in the 50 breaststroke Friday, 93 from four swimmers in the event which followed  (200 backstroke), and 86 from four individuals in the 200 freestyle Saturday

Eastern shared the NEISDA Team Sportsmanship Award and 17th-year head coach Maureen Fahey shared the NEISDA Coach-of-the-Year Award. Fahey gained the identical honor iin both 2004/05 and 2009/10. Awards were announced following the completion of competition Sunday night.



Three are Zimmerman Award-Winners



Above: Holly Zimmerman Memorial Award winners (with plaques) Julie Pietrycha, Stephanie Johnson and Brittany Garnelis.

By Jennifer Catone/Sports Information Staff

Garnelis, Johnson, Pietrycha are recognized with memorial award

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Seniors Brittany Garnelis (Ellington) and Julie Pietrycha (Newington) and junior Stephanie Johnson (Plantsville) have been selected as 2012/13 recipients of the Holly E. Zimmerman Memorial Award. The selections were announced by committee co-chairmen Diana Pepin and Peter Maneggia and the awards were presented between games of a Jan. 26 women's and men's basketball doubleheader at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

This year's recipients bring to 34 the number of individuals recognized with the award, which is named in memory of the late Holly Zimmerman, an Andover native who attended Eastern between 1989 and 1993. She was a Health and Physical Education (HPE) major, basketball player, and student athletic trainer who passed away in 1993.

"This year's winners are very deserving recipients of this award," said Pepin, the current Eastern softball coach who was a close friend of Zimmerman when they were both undergraduates. "They are respected by the entire Eastern community for their commitment to their academics and their unselfishness and loyalty. There were many qualified candidates for this award, and the task of choosing the winners was difficult, but the committee felt that these three individuals stood apart."

Garnelis is a Sport & Leisure Management (SLM) major with a concentration in Sport Management and a minor in Coaching. She is a member of the competitive cheerleading squad and will be heading to Daytona, FL in April to compete in the nationals. She is a member of the SLM/HPE Club and is also a student athletic trainer. Garnelis has a 3.61 overall GPA and has been selected to for the Excellence Expo & Exercise Science College Bowl and is a recipient of the Connecticut Recreation & Parks Association Scholarship.

Following graduation, Garnelis hopes to intern with the South Windsor Parks and Recreation Dept.

"Brittany is one of the most honest and strong workers  who is always punctual and willing to help in any way that she can," noted athletic trainer Tom Holton. "She handles herself in a professional manner and takes the lead in getting things done, then looks for more to do."

Johnson is majoring in SLM with concentrations in Exercise Science and Sport Performance. Johnson is an outfielder and third-year member of the softball program and also is a student-assistant in the athletic training room. Johnson is planning on attending graduate school and pursuing a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

"Stephanie is a loyal teammate and one of the most dedicated and hardest-working individuals on the softball team," praised Pepin. "She has a passion for the sport and is a role model for newcomers. As a friend and former roommate of Holly's, I can think of no better person to receive this award."

 Pietrycha recently wound up a four-year career with the Eastern swimming program, serving as a team captain this year and as the program's only four-year letterwinner.  She is a Sport & Leisure Management major with a concentration in Exercise Science and minor in Business with an overall 2.83 GPA. Hoping to pursue an advanced career following graduation, Pietrycha is currently interning at ProCare Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Willimantic.

"Julie's determination and loyalty have shined over the years, showing most clearly in her dedication and work ethic in practice," said Eastern head swim coach Maureen Fahey. "Academically, she strives to be the best that she can be. She is an integral and well-respected member of the Eastern swimming family whose quiet sense of humor brightens the days of her teammates and coaches alike."

A nine-person committee comprised of coaches, faculty, staff and student-athletes selected this year's three winners from an original candidate pool of  nine.

Female undergraduates who are junior or senior Health and Physical Education or Sports and Leisure Management majors are eligible for the award. Candidates must have made significant contributions to the Eastern intercollegiate athletic program as either members of an athletic team or as student athletic trainers and have an overall grade-point average of at least 2.70. The candidates must reflect Holly's qualities of loyalty, thoughtfulness and academic determination.






W-Swim: Warriors Hold Firm at No. 2

At NEISDA Meet, Warriors strengthen hold on second place



WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt.-  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team broke four more records and strengthened its hold on second place Saturday at theNew England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Division II-III Championships at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center.

At left: Michelle Schapp (Colleen King photo)

Leading Roger Williams University by 23 ½ points after Friday's first day, Eastern fell into third place after three events Saturday, but outscored the Hawks  63-20 in the 100 yard backstroke to move ahead again, and opened up the lead to 80.5 points after Saturday's final event.

Eastern finished fourth last year, but two Division II institutions which finished ahead of the Warriors - champion Bentley College and Assumption College - did not compete this season.  
With seven swimming events remaining Sunday, Eastern has totaled 783.5 points and trails only Keene State College (1,125). Roger Williams has 703 and Division II Saint Michael's College 516 in a field which includes 21 scoring teams.

Each team's point totals do not included diving events which are taking place at Plymouth State University (Eastern does not have a diving team).

Saturday, Eastern  collected 86 points in the 200 freestyle - the fifth event of the day -- followed with 63 points in the 100 backstroke and 62 more in the 100 breaststroke before  the 800 freestyle relay garnered 52 points with a second-place finish in a program-record time of 8:07.84 in the final event of the day.

Securing additional program records for Eastern Saturday were junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington), freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) and the 200 medley relay. Schapp set her second individual record in the championships with a time of 28.75 in the 50 backstroke which ignited the 200 medley relay to its program-record time of 1:52.52. Katie King broke her second individual record in two days with a time of 1:08.95 in the 100 breaststroke that broke her record that she had set in the Little East Conference Championships Dec. 1.

Joining Schapp on the record 200 medley relay were Katie King, junior Colleen King (Barkhamsted) and sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk), while juniors Erin McVeigh (Windsor), Marissa Colley (East Haven), Schapp and Becky Odgers (Shelton) teamed on the record 800 freestyle relay.

Top finishes along with the 800 freestyle relay were the 200 medley relay (3rd), McVeigh in the 200 freestyle (2nd), Colleen King in the 50 butterfly (5th), Odgers  in the 1000 freestyle (6th),  Colley in the 200 freestyle (6th) and Schapp in the 100 backstroke (6th).


Swim: Warriors a Solid Second at NEs

On first day of NEISDA meet, two individual and one relay records fall

kingK_72dpi_0073.jpgAt right Katie King (Photo by Colleen King)


WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. --  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team broke two individual and one relay record Friday and stands in second place among 20 scoring teams after the first day of the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Division II-III Championships at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center.

Fourth overall last year and second among Division III institutions, Eastern has 384.5 points, second only to fellow Little East Conference team Keene State College (588) and 23.5 points more than Roger Williams University. Division II Bentley College, the defending champion, chose not to compete this year.

Junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) broke her own record Friday morning with a time of 2:12.06 in the preliminary round of the 200 yard backstroke - a record she set as a freshman at this meet. Freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) broke the three-year-old program record in the 50 breaststroke - her second breaststroke record of the year -- Friday morning with a time of 31.10 in the preliminaries, while the  400 medley relay broke the third record of the day with a time of 4:07.97 Friday morning in the preliminaries - a record set a year ago in this meet. Relay swimmers included Schapp, Katie King, junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) and freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury).

Holding to fourth place after three events, Eastern collected 99 points in the 50 breaststroke to jump to second. Eastern swimmers garnered two of the top five and five of the top 16 spots in that event, led by Katie King , junior sister Colleen King (Barkhamsted), sophomore Rachael Thatcher (Newington), senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) and senior Julie Pietrycha (Newington). Katie King was third - the highest finish by an Eastern individual Friday -- Colleen King fifth, Thatcher ninth, O'Kelly 11th and Pietrycha 16th.

The Warriors have registered 108 of their points in the two relays:  56 points in the 200 free relay (2nd place) and 52 in the record-setting 400 medley relay (4th). Swimmers comprising the 200 free relay in the final were Schapp, junior Becky Odgers (Shelton), sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) and McVeigh.

In addition to picking up 108 points in the relays and 99 in the 50 breaststroke, Eastern amassed 93 in the 200 backstroke by capturing four of the top nine spots behind juniors Marissa Colley (East Haven) and Schapp, Smoragiewicz and junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY). Colley was fourth, Schapp sixth in her record time, Smoragiewicz seventh and Tromp ninth. Eastern also accumulated  56 in the 500 freestyle, with Odgers and McVeigh taking 4-5 and freshman Courtney Holzer (Cromwell)  20th.

Due to the blizzard, Saturday's preliminaries were cancelled, with the day's finals scheduled to get underway at 4 p.m. Eastern's top seeds Saturday include the 200 medley relay (2nd), Colleen King in the 50 butterfly (4th), Katie King in the 100 breaststroke (4th), Schapp in the 100 backstroke (6th), McVeigh in the 200 freestyle (7th), Odgers in the 1000 freestyle (7th), Colley in the 200 freestyle (9th) and Thatcher in the 100 breaststroke (9th).


W-Swim: Set for Success at NEISDA

Eighteen swimmers will compete at this weekend's championships


Championships Web Page

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Every current Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim record but three have been set in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Division II-III Championships.

At left: Michelle Schapp (Photo by Colleen King).

And you can expect several of those records to fall this weekend at the 34th Annual NEISDA Championships Friday through Sunday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, VT.

Upwards of 20 institutions will be represented in the three-day event, which was won last year by Division II Bentley College. Eastern was the second-highest ranked Division III school, capturing fourth place overall with 773.5 points , more than 100 points ahead of the fifth-place competitors.

Since placing 15th overall in 2007, Eastern has never placed lower than seventh, with a program-best third coming in 2010 behind All-New England performers Kelsy Doheny, Jessica Wilson and Amy Arisco.

Eighteen swimmers on this year's 23-person roster will compete, with nine of them seeded among the top six. While Eastern will garner its share of top individual finishers, it is in the relays where the Warriors traditionally  collect the bulk of their points. The Warriors are seeded fourth or higher in four relays and seventh in a fifth (the composition of each relay is determined on the day of each event).

Freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) - the program record-holder in the 100 breaststroke -- is seeded third in the 50 yard breaststroke, fourth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 100 individual medley, while junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) -- who set the current 100 backstroke record at the Little East Conference Championships Dec. 1 -- holds seeds of No. 3 in the 50 backstroke, No. 6 in the 100 backstroke and No. 7 in the 200 backstroke.

Additional swimmers earning high seeds are junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor), who is seventh in the 200 and 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly,  junior Colleen King (Barkhamsted), who is fourth in the 50 butterfly, junior Marissa Colley (East Haven), fifth in the 200 backstroke, senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport), sixth in the 200 breaststroke and seventh in the 50 breaststroke, and junior Becky Odgers (Shelton), who is fifth in the 1,650 freestyle and seventh in the 1,000 freestyle.

Generally, the top 24 finishers in individual events score points, as do the top 21 relays.

Last year's five relays accounted for one-third of the team's point total.  McVeigh (55) and Schapp (47) are the most prolific point-producers from last year's meet, with Odgers, junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY),  and sophomores Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) and Rachael Thatcher (Newington) all netting at least 30.


W-Basketball: Frosh Flummox Western

Colonials have no answer for Leonard or Ritrosky in Warriors' win


Freshmen forwards Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) and Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) combined for 45 points and 19 rebounds as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team snapped Western Connecticut State University's nine-game winning streak with a 70-55 Little East Conference victory Tuesday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymasnium.

At right: Brianna Leonard found herself with plenty of room to work under the basket throughout Tuesday's 70-55 LEC win over Western Conn. (Jonathan Mizger photo)

With its fourth straight conference win this year and first victory over Western (16-6, 8-3 Little East) in the last seven meetings, Eastern (9-13, 7-4 Little East) moves within a game of the second-place Colonials and into sole possession of third place in the conference. Although the 5-foot-8 inch Leonard and 5-9  Ritrosky combined for 30 points, Eastern was beaten by 12 points at Western Connecticut three weeks ago.

Last week's LEC Rookie-of-the-Week, Leonard led both teams with a career-high 28 points (11-for-15 from the floor) - the majority of her scoring coming on drives to the basket -- and added a game-high ten rebounds in 40 minutes of work, and Ritrosky finished with 17 points (her seventh straight game in double figures) and nine rebounds. She was 7-for-10 from the foul line.

Sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) chipped in 13 points and a career-high nine rebounds. She was 6-for-7 from the floor and also had a game-high four assists.

Eastern never trailed in the game, holding the Colonials to nine points through the first 15 minutes and racing to a 14-point, 23-9 lead. The Colonials rallied to cut the gap to eight by the half when  senior guard Nicole Eanniello and junior forward Sciarra Brandt combined for three three-point field goals.

Eastern re-grouped at the half, however,  and Ritrosky and Forsman opened the second half with inside buckets, Forsman sinking a free throw to complete a conventional three-point play and give the Warriors a 13-point, 36-23 lead. Western did not get closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Eanniello led Western with 17 points, six-foot freshman Sha'Quuira Palmer adding 11 points off the bench and senior guard Jackie Zilnicki ten points.

Eastern outrebounded Western by 16 and forced the Colonials into 31.4 percent shooting from the floor while sinking half of their tries from the field, most coming from close range.

Eastern visits Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday at 1 p.m.

M-Basketball Completes Sweep, 64-51

For first time ever, Warriors win both LEC games against Western


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) combined for 24 second-half points on 9-for-10 shooting from the floor to help lift the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 64-51 Little East Conference victory over Western Connecticut State University Tuesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Justin Nunez (5) came off the bench to provide steady play at the point and contribute tight defense on Western's Phil Starks (3) in Tuesday's 64-51 Little East triumph over Western Connecticut. (Jonathan Mizger photo).

With the win, Eastern (15-7, 9-2 Little East) remains within a game of LEC leader Rhode Island College, which  downed visiting Massachusetts Boston, 71-60 Tuesday night. Western (5-16, 3-8 Little East)  dropped its sixth game in its last seven decisions and fell from a share of fifth place in the conference into sixth place. Three conference games remain in the regular season.

The wins gives the Warriors their first-ever LEC regular-season sweep of Western and marks the first time in 30 years that they have swept both games against the Colonials in a season.

Salzillo finished with a game-high 21 points and a career-high eight rebounds and extended his three-point field goal streak to 27 games. He was 5-for-10 from long range.

After missing all five of his field goals in the first half, Robitaille sank all five of his tries in the second to finish with 11 points.

Eastern was never able to pull away until the final five minutes, when it used a 14-2 run to move out to a 16-point, 64-48 lead inside the final 30 seconds. Robitaille had five points in the run and senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire)  five on a three-point field goal and two free throws.

Freshman guard Phil Starks led Western with 12 points but was the only double-digit scorer for the Colonials, who shot just 33.3 percent from the floor.

The defending LEC regular-season and tournament champ, Eastern visits Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday at 3 p.m. The Warriors are already assured of a first-round LEC tournament home game two weeks from tonight.

W-Basketball: LEC Names Leonard

Freshman forward receives top weekly rookie billing for first time


LEC LOGO PARE72dpi.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) has been selected Rookie-of-the-Week in the Little East Conference in the sport of women's basketball for the week ending Feb. 3.

At right: Brianna Leonard (Photo by Courtney Weber).

In a 1-1 week, the 5-foot-8 inch Leonard led the Warriors with a 14.5 scoring average and .611 field goal percentage and was second in rebounding (5.5)  and free throw percentage (.700) without a turnover in 60 minutes en route to the first weekly LEC honor of her career.

In a road win over Plymouth State University - Eastern's third straight victory in the conference - Leonard had a team-high 12 points (5-for-8 shooting from the floor) and added six rebounds.  In a mid-week home loss to Bowdoin College, she tossed in a career-high 17 points (6-for-10 from the floor, 5-for-6 from the stripe) and added five rebounds.

For the 8-13 Warriors, Leonard is third on the team in scoring (8.7) and third in rebounding (5.4) shares second place on the team in steals (25), and is first among regulars in field goal percentage (.430). She moved into the starting lineup in the sixth game of the year and has started the last 16.

Among freshmen in the conference, Leonard ranks second in field goal percentage, third in scoring and fourth in rebounding.

Leonard wrestled the weekly rookie award away from UMass Boston freshman Olivia Murphy, who had claimed the award the previous four weeks.

Leonard becomes the program's second weekly honoree this year, joining sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), who was selected Player-of-the-Week for the week ending Jan. 6 after averaging a double-double in three games.

Tied for third place in the conference, Eastern hosts LEC opponent Western Connecticut State University Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.


Soccer: DeVito CJSA Coach-of-the-Year


cjsaCOY01251372dpi.jpgGreg DeVito, Eastern Connecticut State University head men's soccer coach, was honored as the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association (CJSA) Coach-of-the-Year at the annual  President's Awards Dinner at the Farmington Marriott Jan. 25. DeVito has served as a coach in the association for 12 years and has won five CJSA Open Cup championships, including the FSA United U-17 title in 2010 and the FSA United U-18 crown in 2011. Last year, DeVito's U-15 and U-17 squads reached the Cup championship. DeVito has led Eastern to six post-season tournaments in as many years and compiled an overall record of 88-28-12. Last fall's' team won a program record 17 matches against just two losses and a tie and captured the Little East Conference regular-season and tournament titles.  Shown in photo above with DeVito are (from left) assistant coaches Matt Weston, Adam Phaiah and Conor Clifford. 

Opportunities for Females Celebrated

Girls and Women in Sports Day and Title IX  to be recognized this week


By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff

title IX logo.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Female athletics will take center stage this week with the celebration of two major milestones in the advancement of athletic opportunities for women.

Eastern Connecticut State University will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX as well as  the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day in a two-day celebration this week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, women's basketball will host Western Connecticut State University in a Little East Conference game at 5:30 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. In recognition of National Girls' and Women in Sports Day, youth, elementary and middle school girls' basketball are invited  to attend the game wearing their team uniform and receive free admission.

The next day, Wednesday, Feb. 6,  the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation is officially celebrated nationwide.  The legislation which became law on June 23, 1972 changed the landscape of collegiate athletics and reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
wlax72dpi_0682.jpgAt 11 a.m. at the Student Center Wednesday, Eastern will showcase the film Hero for Daisy, which is a documentary about two-time Olympian Chris Ernst and her 1976 rowing team at Yale University, which protested the lack of proper facilities for women.

At 3 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library Wednesday, Eastern is hosting a Title IX forum as part of the University Hour program.

To get more into Title IX, I was given the chance to read a study on how Title IX has made an impact in our nation. From The Status of Women in Intercollegiate Athletics as Title IX Turns 40 by Amy Wilson (Instructor, Education Department of Illinois College and PhD Candidate, Heath and Sports Studies at University of Iowa) stated: "Title IX consists of 37 words that mandated change in American education by making discrimination based on sex illegal thereby expanding access and opportunities for the underrepresented sex, which historically has been women."

Wilson described how Title IX should be supported and considered for continued process. Wilson stated: "The law's 40th anniversary offers us an appropriate occasion to reflect on our own philosophies of intercollegiate sport. If we value sport for young people and champion its many benefits, then we will strive for comparable participation opportunities and treatment for all student-athletes. Title IX's promise is that it serves as a powerful tool and a potent reminder that it takes much effort and diligence to bring about a model of intercollegiate athletics that is equitable and fair to all."

The guest panelists at Eastern's Title IX Forum are: Christina Amato, Dr. Jennifer Bruening, Tom Farrey, Theresa Grentz, and Carolyn Vanacore.

amato strip 72_8617.jpg

Amato played basketball at Eastern from 2005-2009, where she served as a senior captain, was a recipient of the prestigious Holly Zimmerman Memorial Award, and graduated with a degree in Sport and Leisure Management. The Marlboro, MA native is currently the Director of Recreation and Chair of Physical Education at Colgate University.

At right: Christina Amato

Bruening is the Director of the Laboratory for Sport Management at the University of Connecticut and has been part of the University's Sport Management Program since January 2002. Bruening spent eight years as an athletic administrator and volleyball coach at Kenyon College, as well as two years as an athletic director.

Farrey is a reporter and journalist for television, print, and online media for ESPN and has won two sports journalism Emmy Awards for Outside the Lines. Farrey, a graduate of the University of Florida, has been with ESPN since 1996 when he was the deputy editor of Farrey is the author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, recognized among experts and universities like Oregon State and University of Florida as leading journalistic work on modern youth sports.

 Grentz was a former women's collegiate basketball player and coach and served as head coach for the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was a member of the Immaculata College Mighty Macs and led the team to win three straight AIAW national championships from 1972 to 1974. Grentz coached for 32 years at Saint Joseph's University, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois and is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

 Vanacore is a Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University, where she was an Assistant Professor of Women's Physical Education.

The event will be sponsored by the President's Office, the Office of Equality and Diversity, the Eastern Athletic Department, the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Health and Physical Education Department and the Women's Center, a Division of Student Affairs.

Spreading the growth of women's athletics is one of the key points that Eastern women's head basketball coach Denise Bierly stated. "Get the word out about women's athletics and where we've come from and where we are today in 2013 and where we still need to go," said Bierly. "The panel will do a good job of discussing where we've been, where we've come from, how far it's come and then where we still need to go."

Bierly had the good fortune playing and coaching with the help of Title IX, but there were obstacles that Bierly faced prior to the iplementation of Tite IX.

"I remember in fifth grade we didn't have any youth girls basketball where I grew up and if I wanted to play I had to play with the boys.  I remember even playing on a boys baseball team  because there was no girls softball," said Bierly. "For me, I kind of came when [Title IX] was getting started and I've been fortunate to have a lot of the rewards from it, especially in my coaching career.

"I've been at Eastern for 19 years and have been well-supported by our administration. I look at the people that came before me and all the fights they had just to get a uniform or just to get balls. It's a reminder to me of where the people that came before me that how much I try to think about how the battles they fought and to help all of us women and girls in sports have the opportunities to play."

Dr. Charlie Chatterton, Eastern's NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative and an Associate Professor in  the Department of Health and Physical Education, had insight on how Title IX affected his family.

"I think back to my own family and my experiences and I have five sisters," said Chatterton. "My older sister she was always playing sports and I use to often see how some of the opportunities I had and facilities that I had were often not on the same par with what she had. When she was going up and she was in high school in the late 70s early 80s and even in middle school, junior high and late elementary, I remember going to the different games and contests and didn't think twice about it. I was just going to watch her game. Thinking about it now in retrospect, we had the boys' gym and there was the smaller girls' gym and we typically played our games at night in high school and my sister's were usually in the afternoon.  What's neat [from Title IX] is now I see the many of the opportunities are available for my children and it's terrific. There's always room to improve but I see quite the contrast."
Both Bierly and Chatterton agree on educating the students at Eastern, the community around Eastern, and nationally about the importance and significance of Title IX.

"It's a very important piece of legislation and it's something that I think all of us, myself included, need to continue to learn about it, be more educated about it, and understand all that's part of it," said Chatterton. 

We look forward to hearing from pioneers of the Title IX movement as the panel will talk about the past, present, and future of Title IX.


Polls: Softball No. 1 in LEC Pre-Season

 Baseball rated No. 2 in poll; softball is No. 10 in national poll


NFCA National Poll

LEC Softball Poll Release.pdf

LEC Baseball Poll Release.pdf

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The loss of four-time All-America pitcher/designated player Molly Rathbun has not stood as an impediment to the  Little East Conference coaches selecting the Eastern Connecticut State University softball program as the pre-season favorite to capture a fourth consecutive conference regular-season title.

At right: Arielle Cooper

In the 2013 pre-season softball coaches' poll, the Warriors received six of eight first-place votes and 62 total points, ten more than Keene State College. The pre-season No. 1 ranking is the third straight for Eastern, which completed the first undefeated regular season (14-0) in the LEC's 17-year softball history last year for its third straight regular-season crown. The Warriors went on to their third consecutive LEC post-season title, as well.

In addition to their pre-season top ranking, the Warriors were chosen as the No. 10 team in the country in the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Division III pre-season Top 25. Eastern opened as the No.4-ranked team in the 2012 NFCA pre-season poll after winning its second straight regional championship in 2011 and never dropped below fifth in the regular season. Eastern was rated No. 8 nationally in last year's final national poll (conducted at the conclusion of the NCAA tournament) after winning a program-record 44 of 47 games and reaching the regional championship game for the third straight season.

The Eastern baseball team, rated No. 24 nationally in the American Baseball Coaches' Assocation (ABCA)/Collegiate Baseball Division III national pre-season poll (released in December), was picked to finish in a tie for second in the Little East Conference pre-season coaches' poll.  Eastern, which has won or share more LEC regular-season (11) and tournament baseball titles (7) than any program, shared second place in the poll with Keene State College, both receiving 53 points. Defending conference regular-season and tournament titlist University of Southern Maine was the top-ranked team, with 58 points. USM was credited with four first-place votes, Eastern two and Keene State one.

balowski72_0322[1].jpgA winner of 29 of 42 games last year, the baseball team was fourth in last year's LEC regular season with an 8-6 record. After winning its LEC tournament opener, the Warriors dropped consecutive one-run decisions to Keene State in 12 innings and to Plymouth State University and was eliminated.

At left: Joe Balowski

Following the loss of all-time winningest pitcher Rathbun and all-region outfielder and career hit leader Priscilla Alicia, the Eastern softball team returns  14 players from a year ago, 12 of whom earned varsity letters and ten of who were regulars on the lineup.

Second-team All-America and two-time All-Region third baseman and leadoff hitter Arielle Cooper (Mystic) returns for her senior season in 2013. As a junior, Cooper batted a team-leading .439, amassed a program record 33-game hitting streak, and tied the season record with 69 hits. Senior righty Kassondra Silva (Hamden) is the most experienced returning pitcher. Silva won all eight of her pitching decisions a year ago in 68 2/3 innings with a 2.45 ERA. Silva was also the team's DP, batting .314 with 17 RBI and 31 total bases.

Additional top returning players for the softball team are senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) and a strong junior class of catcher Megan Bondy (Mystic), centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford), second baseman Jen Tamindzija (Malden, MA), shortstop Megan Godwin (Manchester), and  outfielder Stephanie Johnson (Plantsville). Last year, Johnson and 2013 sophomore Shannon Martin (Wethersfield), split time as starting leftfielders. Sophomore Sam Rossetti (Shelton) was a part-time DP and first baseman as a freshman who may assume a more central role as a pitcher this year.

Bondy was an All-Region and All-Conference backstop last year and Paterson an All-Conference infielder. Godwin is back for third starting season at short after earning All-Region honors and LEC Rookie-of-the-Year honors as a freshman in 2011. Silva was an All-Conference DP in her first season at Eastern in 2010 after transferring from the Division I level, but was a medical redshirt in 2011.

Eastern is scheduled to open its 12th season under head coach Diana Pepin (286-158-1)  -- the program's winningest head coach and a four-time LEC Coach-of-the-Year selection in the last seven years - with ten games in six days at the National Training Center in Clermont, FL.

For the baseball team, among the most accomplished returning pitchers are senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI), junior righty Greg Porter (Mystic), and senior righties Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) and senior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston). Darby was 6-0 in 2012 with a 3.12 ERA, Porter 4-0 with a staff-best 1.52 ERA, Purnell 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA and Chamberlain 3-2 with a 3.04 ERA and three saves.

Starting returning position players are first-team All-New England senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin), sophomore outfielder Adam Roderick (West Hartford), last year's LEC Rookie-of-the-Year, All-LEC junior shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA), senior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington), and junior catcher/DH T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA). Balowski batted .371 last year with 94 total bases, Roderick .364 with 80 total bases, O'Connell .363 with 77 total bases and 101 assists, Riemer .324 with a .988 fielding percentage and Larivee .331.

Eastern baseball is scheduled to open its 45th season under head coach Bill Holowaty (1,382-515-6) March 2 at Hoboken, NJ against New Jersey City University at 11 a.m. and Stevens Tech at 2 p.m.

Track: McElveen, Hewett Triumph

 Hultzman, Gingras  qualify for post-season in pent, McElveen in 500


At left: Hultzman, Kruppa

Men's Results.pdf

Women's Results.pdf

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --  Eastern Connecticut State University junior sprinters Akaya McElveen (New Haven) and Fredrick Hewett (New London) won the 500 and 400 meter sprints, respectively, at the Springfield College Invitational Saturday at the Springfield Field House.

McElveen outran a field of 12 at 500 meters in a time of 1:21.11, winning by just under two seconds over Springfield College's Jenn Kapinos while Hewett topped a field of 19 at 400 meters in a time of 51.44, besting runnerup Anthony Barnes of the City College of New York by 1.29 seconds.

The Eastern women totaled 58 points to finish fifth among ten teams while the Eastern men collected 59 points for a sixth-place finish in an eight-team field.

Senior Cora Gingras (East Hampton) and junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) qualified for post-season competition in the pentathlon, Gingras for the third straight year and Hultzman for the second. Saturday, Hultzman was second with 2,734 points and Gingras third with 2,686. Hultzman won the high jump (5-1 ¾) and long jump (15-9 ¾) and was second in the shot put (27-6); Gingras was second in the 800 (2:39.70) and second in the high jump (4-11 ¾). Ramatulai Bah, a junior at CCNY, trimmed Hulzman by  32 points to claim the pentathlon title. Bah won the 60 meter hurdles and shot to overcome a fifth-place finish in the 800.

McElveen qualified for post-season competition in her third event, following earlier qualification in the 600 and 800.

Hewett totaled 16 points on the day, adding six points with a third-place finish in the 200 (23.32) to go along with ten points in the 400.Sophomore Andre Reynolds (Hartford) totaled 13 points with a second-place finish in the 60 hurdles (8.89) and fourth-place finish in the 400 (54.17). Sophomore Dylan Kruppa's (Torrington) second-place finish in the long jump (20-9 ¼) netted eight additional points.

Hulzman was credited with eight points and Gingras six in the pentathlon while  junior Amy Huhn (Hebron) picked up eight points by taking second in the pole vault (9-6- ¼)  and freshman Emily Kohn (Columbia) added eight with a second-place finish in the shot put (32-0 ¾).

Eastern competes in the Little East Conference/New England Alliance Championships Saturday at the Costello Athletic Complex on the campus of the University of Southern Maine.

M-Basketball: Garrow Slams Plymouth

Junior scores ten straight points in decisive 14-5 run, finishes with 29


At left: Mike Garrow (Photo by Cris Yarborough)

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team rode a career-high 29-point effort from junior guard Mike Garrow (Terryville) to a 70-60 Little East Conference victory over Plymouth State University Saturday afternoon at Foley Gym, taking over sole possession of second place in the conference with its fifth straight conference road triumph.

With four regular-season conference games remaining, Eastern (14-7, 8-2 Little East) moved a game ahead of the University of Southern Maine, which dropped an 88-80 home decision to Keene State College Saturday.

Eastern  won its fifth straight LEC road game after an opening loss and improved to 7-2 overall on the road in sweeping Plymouth in the home-and-home series for the third straight season.

Behind Garrow's 12-for-17 field goal effort which netted him his career-high point total, Eastern shot over .500 from the floor (.549) for the eighth time this year in breaking an overall two-game losing streak. Garrow was held to four points in 20 minutes in Eastern's ten-point win (73-63) over Plymouth Jan. 5 at Geissler Gymnasium.

Eastern never trailed but needed a 14-5 burst early in the second half - ten straight points in the run courtesy of Garrow -- to push a seven-point lead to 16, 59-43, with 7:26 left. In that stretch, Garrow completed a conventional three-point play, a three-point field goal, a jumper and an inside basket to help the Warriors pull away.

The four players Eastern took off the bench combined for only eight points in 41 minutes, with Plymouth (6-15, 2-8 Little East) sophomore guard Shomari Morgan eclipsing the combined total of Eastern's bench players with 15 points in 22 minutes.  In Eastern's earlier win over Plymouth, Morgan played but two scoreless minutes.

Garrow scored 19 of the team's 36 second-half points and also finished the game with nine rebounds.

Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) was perfect on six field goal tries in the game to improve his conference-leading percentage to .569. Robitaille totaled 13 points and a game-high ten rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.

Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) clicked on his first three-point field goal attempt of the second half to extend his streak of games with at least one to 26. It was the sixth time that he has advanced the streak by converting exactly one three-pointer.

The game was the first for Eastern since losing senior point guard Joe Ives (Avon) for the season to a knee injury late in Wednesday's loss to Wesleyan University.

Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

W-Basketball: Defense Boosts Warriors

Eastern holds Plymouth scoreless from floor for 11 minutes in 56-33 win

mcbride_yarb_72dpi0213.jpgPLYMOUTH, NH - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team scored 16 consecutive points after spotting Plymouth State University the first basket of the game, holding the Panthers scoreless from the floor for 11 minutes in easing to a 56-33 Little East Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium.

At left: Taylor McBride (Photo by Cris Yarborough)

The conference win is the third straight for Eastern (8-13, 6-4 Little East), completes the season sweep of Plymouth (1-19, 0-10 Little East) and moves the Warriors out of a three-way tied for third place in the conference into a two-way tie for third with Rhode Island College, which downed host Massachusetts Boston, 68-50. Massachusetts Dartmouth fell from a tie for third into fifth place following a 78-74 loss to host Western Connecticut.

Eight different players contributed points when the Warriors outscored the Panthers 21-2 over 11 minutes in the first half, holding the hosts to two just two free throws in that span. Eastern, which scored 11 points in a row after Plymouth scored the initial two points of the game, got a three-point field goal, three steals and two rebounds from freshman guard Victoria Pfohl (Trumbull) in that stretch, with sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) adding a basket, three rebounds and a steal, freshman Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) four points, three rebounds and an assist, and freshman Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) four points and three rebounds.

Plymouth helped the Warriors in that decisive early stretch by missing ten straight shots and commiting five turnovers on 17 possessions. The Panthers shot under 30 percent from the floor in the game.

Eastern, which has limited two of its last three conference opponents to less than 40 points, was led by Ritrosky, who recorded her fourth double-double of the season with ten points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Leonard led the Warriors with 12 points and added six rebounds, with sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) matching her season high with six assists.

In her fifth career game, freshman guard Avi Morrison (Hampton, NH) contributed a career-high eight points - all in the second half. Morrison and Pfohl both dropped in two three-point field goals in the contest.

Ten Eastern players pulled down at least one rebound to lift the visitors to a 48-29 advantage on the boards.

Eastern hosts Western Connecticut Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The Colonials, who remained one game behind LEC leader University of Southern Maine with its four-point win over UMass Dartmouth, downed Eastern, 60-48 Jan. 15.


W-Swiming Cruises in Home Finale

Warriors collect 21 fastest times in 119-88 win over Rhode Island


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A total of 17 swimmers combined to swim 21 fastest times of the season as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team closed out the regular season with a 119-88 victory over Rhode Island College Saturday morning at the Sports Center pool.

Above: Seniors Julie Pietrycha and Stephanie O'Kelly were honored prior to the final home meet of their careers Saturday.

Eastern (8-1) matches its dual-meet record of a year ago when it set a season record with an .889 winning percentage. Rhode Island (3-4), like Eastern a member of the Little East Conference, is a second-year program.

Led by juniors Michelle Schapp (Torrington) and Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY), the Warriors captured seven firsts and also swam the fastest times on an exhibition basis in three others in the 13-event meet.

Tromp, seniors Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) and Julie Pietrycha (Newington) and freshman Kenna Jones (Simsbury) all posted season-best times in both of their individual events.


At right: Erin McVeigh swims the final leg of the 200 yard freestyle relay which closed out the team's eighth dual meet win of the season Saturday.

Winning individual events were Schapp in the 50 yard butterfly (28.38) and 100 freestyle (59.49), junior Marissa Colley (East Haven) in the 50 freestyle (26.77), junior Colleen King (Barkamsted) in the 50 backstroke (31.50), junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) in the 200 butterfly (2:22.73), sophomore Rachael Thatcher (Newington) in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.25) and Tromp in the 100 backstroke (1:06.14). On an exhibition basis, O'Kelly also recorded the fastest time in the 50 breaststroke (33.39) and Tromp in the 100 individual medley (1:07.03). On an exhibition basis, the 200 freestyle of freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury), Schapp, Smoragiewicz and McVeigh also posted the fastest time (1:46.03).

Eastern finished 1-2-3 in the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle and 1-2 in the 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle and posted the top two times on an exhibition basis in the 50 breaststroke, 100 individual medley and 200 freestyle relay.

Recording first-place finishes for Rhode Island were freshman Marykate McCutcheon in the 200 freestyle (2:04.47) and in the 500 freestyle (5:33.94) and junior Sophie Kanno in the 200 individual medley. Freshman Emily Thompson took a pair of seconds in the 50 freestyle (27.58) and 50 backstroke (31.89).

In the final home meets of their careers, O'Kelly also placed second in the 200 individual medley (2:23.56) and Pietrycha was third in the 200 individual medley (2:36.69) and recorded a time of 1:11.31 in the 100 individual medley on an exhibition basis.

Eastern and Rhode Island compete in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships Friday through Sunday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, Vt. The Warriors placed fourth a year ago while Rhode Island will be competing for the first time.




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