Warriors gear up for Friday's conference semifinals by blitzing UMB
The Warriors concluded the regular season on a high note, celebrating Seniors' Day prior to their shutout of UMass Boston.
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Fourteen different players contributed a goal or assist and senior goalie Drew Deane (Vernon) posted his first career shutout as one of nine Eastern Connecticut State University seniors playing the final regular-season home matches of their careers as the Warriors wrapped up the regular season with a 20-0 Little East Conference men's lacrosse victory over the University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
The team's fifth straight victory - all in the conference - pushes Eastern (8-7, 6-1 LEC) over the .500 mark for the first time this year and represents the 12th time in 13 years of LEC competition that the Warriors have lost less than two regular-season conference matches in a season.
"Our guys have really meshed well in the last few weeks," noted sixth-year head coach Justin Axel of the Warriors, who gained a first-round playoff bye as the No. 2 seed and will host a playoff semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. The Warriors will play the winner of a Tuesday first-round match between No. 3 Massachusetts Dartmouth and No. 6 Western Connecticut State University (Eastern edged both of those teams on the road recently by a total of five goals).
UMass Boston (6-11, 3-4 LEC) entered the day sharing fourth place in the conference but fell to the No. 5 seed and will meet No. 4 Plymouth State U. Tuesday in a first-round match at Plymouth.
"I think that our difficult out-of-conference schedule has gotten us ready for the Little East playoffs," added Axel of his team, the defending LEC playoff titlist. "We've gotten better and better each game, and we look forward to riding this momentum into the Little East playoffs. Everyone must play to their level, though, not just one or two guys. It will take everyone hitting on all cylinders."
In Eastern's 20th straight victory over UMass Boston in this 20-game series, Eastern outshot the Beacons 2-to-1, cleared 20 of 21 attempts and turned the ball over only 15 times - six below its average.
Making his seventh start - tops among the four goalies to have seen time this year - Deane stopped 11 shots for this third victory of the season.
The Warriors scored six times in the final 7:33 of the first quarter and five more in the final eight minutes of the second to ease to a 12-0 halftime lead. Juniors led the way for Eastern, with Tyler Fresen (Newington) contributing five assists and three goals, junior Mike Jordan (Cheshire) four goals and Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH) three goals and three assists. Senior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 12 of 14 faceoffs, scopping the ground ball each time.