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M-Lax: Eastern Downs Western, 12-9

Surging Warriors even overall record, close in on LEC playoff bye

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DANBURY, Conn. -  Freshman Brendan Gillotti (Danbury) made 19 saves - the most by an Eastern Connecticut State University goalie this season -- to win his first collegiate decision as the Warriors remained undefeated against Western Connecticut State University with a 12-9 Little East Conference men's lacrosse victory Tuesday night at Westside Athletic Complex.

At right: Brendan Gillotti

A winner of four straight -all in the conference --  Eastern (7-7, 5-1 LEC) moves to within a win in its regular-season finale or a loss by Plymouth State University in one of its two remaining regular-season matches to securing a first-round bye in the LEC playoffs, which get underway Tuesday with first-round matches.

Making his first start since the season-opener, Gillotti set the tempo by making seven saves when Western (8-7, 2-4 LEC) amassed a 13-5 shooting advantage over the first 15 minutes. He then preserved Eastern's three-goal edge by coming up with six more saves in the final quarter.

For the third straight match, the Eastern defense surrendered just one goal in the important third quarter and has outscored its last two opponents 11-2 in that frame.

Down 4-1 late in the first quarter, Eastern finally took its first lead on junior attack Mike Jordan's (Cheshire) team-leading 34th goal of the season midway through the second quarter. The Warriors took the lead for good, 10-6, by sending in the first five goals of the third quarter. Five different players contributed in that run, with senior midfielder Kevin Fechtmann (Levittown, NY) assisting on the first, scoring the second and assisting on the fourth. Junior All-America midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) capped the decisive five-and-half-minute spurt with his second goal of the match -- 100th of his career.

Sophomore midfielder Zach Thresher (Somers) led Eastern with three goals, junior attack Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH),  Jordan  and Devine adding two each. Senior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 12 of 21 faceoffs and picked up seven ground balls, with sophomore midfielder Steven Nixon (Foxborough, MA) picking up four and Fechtmann and senior long-stick midfielder Merrick Smith (Stonington) corraliing three each. Nixon also caused three turnovers,

Western is in sixth place in the conference, one match ahead of the University of Southern Maine for the final LEC playoff berth.

The defending LEC regular-season and playoff champion, Eastern hosts the University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. in its conference and rgular-season finale at 1 p.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

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