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Though contrasting in style, Monroe natives remain 'blood brothers'
By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff
Editor's Note: This question-and-answer is with brothers Drew and Dean Accomando. Drew played four years of baseball - serving as a team captain this past spring - before graduating with honors last night (Tuesday, May 14) with a degree in Health and Physical Education. A Sport & Leisure Management major, Dean recently completed his second season with the lacrosse program and has been part of Little East Conference championships each year. The Accomandos, born 28 months apart (Dean turns 20 next week), played a variety of sports together while growing up in Monroe (the family has since moved to Shelton) and were football teammates at Masuk High School. While both consider football to be among their favorite activities while growing up, Drew settled on baseball in college. Dean followed his brother to Eastern two years later, choosing lacrosse.
While the theory of 'sibling rivalry' may have its genesis with the Accomandos - the debate as to which is the better all-around athlete rages on - the brothers are in undeniable agreement that their college experience was enhanced and enriched by daily interaction for the past two years.
This is the third of a four-part series focusing upon sibling athletes at Eastern, following previous installments documenting swimming sisters Colleen and Katie King of Barkhamsted, and lacrosse sisters Kelsea and Amy Burkhardt of Old Saybrook. The final installment will be a story about the unique situation in the men's lacrosse program, which included three sets of brothers this year: Drew and Angus Deane, Kevin and Sean Fechtmann (the second and third Fechtmanns to play lacrosse at Eastern), and Mike and Brendan Gillotti.
Were you two inseparable growing up?
Dean: "No, we weren't really good friends until high school. He used to beat me up a little bit.
Drew: "I mean, we had our ups and downs but if we ever needed to go to the backyard and play a couple of sports, he was my guy. When we'd go ride a go-cart around, he was in the passenger seat all the time. We were best friends, but enemies."
Did you two share a bedroom while growing up?
Dean: "Our entire lives."
Drew: "Yeah, we were the only two out of our family to ever have to share a bedroom. It isn't easy sleeping on the top bunk over somebody you know. He steps on you when he comes down and he's waking me up."
Dean: "I like the TV on and he likes it off."
What kind of things do you both like to do together?
Dean: "We like to work out."
Drew: "We exercise together; we go fishing together."
Dean: "Video games."
Drew: "Yeah and we go to the supermarket together because we live together so we got to go shopping and get the food. Maybe like a drive to go somewhere if someone needs something."
Dean: "We party together."
Drew: "Yeah we go out together and meet new people."
What kind of things do you both have in common?
Dean: "We both played football our entire lives, and I used to play baseball up until about high school and switched to lacrosse."
Drew: "Football was probably both of our favorite sports growing up. That's what really kind of brought us together and separated us from my other brother and sister, because all we ever wanted to do was to go outside and tackle one another. In common, I'd say watch each other play sports because I would never want to miss one of his hockey games or football games in high school and he'd never want to miss one of my games when I played."
Dean: "Yeah I try to get to every single one of his baseball games I can. It's hard, because we practice at the same time but I usually make it to the last few innings that I can."
Drew: "For things together, pretty much everything, anything I do, I can do with him, too."
In what ways are you alike and in what ways are you different?
Dean: "One: the hair."
Drew: "He's got long hair and a beard and I'm clean cut and shave."
Dean: "I've always had the longer hair and the beard. Also, I'm the only one to play hockey and lacrosse in the family and I also have the tattoos."
Drew: "Yeah he's got tattoos, long hair and a beard and I don't have any tattoos and I have short hair. I play baseball and he plays lacrosse, kind of the opposite. I played basketball and he played hockey."
Dean: "I grew up in a big baseball family where my oldest brother went to play at Division I UConn and I wanted to take my own path."
In what ways would your parents or friends say you both are alike and what ways would they say you are different?
Drew: "Well he's napping on the couch and I'm in the gym, that's what they say. Nah, he's getting better now. I'd say that we're so passionate about sports and life like bettering yourself everyday like we both wake up with a mission. Whether it's we've got to get bigger, faster, stronger today or I got to go to the library to get x, y, and z done, definitely work ethic, determination, perseverance."
Dean: "Our difference I think would be academically, though."
Drew: "Yeah, academics."
Dean: "He's been blowing it out of the water."
Drew: "Yeah, I want to get straight A's and he's fine with getting B's and C's."
Dean: "It took me a little longer to get adjusted to college, so I'm figuring it out now and steadily improving."
When you both were in high school or junior high, did you both ever talk of maybe playing the same sport or just attending the same college?
Drew: "I would say football for a while. We always wanted to play on the same football team."
Dean: "The only time that was ever going to happen was high school because he's two years older than me, two grades above me."
Drew: "I got hurt a little bit in high school in football so I couldn't play anymore so that kind of shot that out of the water but I think that all along we always talked about one of us being a running back, one being a linebacker on the other team. I think we wanted to play football together but we took our own paths."
Dean: "College-wise, I ended up making a decision one, basically (Eastern) was close (to home)and two, it helped me having Drew here because I wasn't that great in school and I knew that if I needed help or had a question on my classes, he would be there for me. And now we live in the same building off campus."
Do you think that your parents wanted the two of you to go to the same college or did they leave it entirely up to you two?
Drew: "They definitely left it to us, for sure. I think it just influenced him a little bit that the adjustments at college would be easier with his older brother there. I had a bunch of friends on campus, I knew the ins and outs of Eastern, I would be a junior so I've been here for two years, so I think it was comforting for them to know that he was going to go to Eastern so they sort of pushed him in that aspect and once that he showed that he wanted to go, they gave us the option 100 percent."
Dean: "And also it makes it easier for (our parents). Now they can come to one school to see one of our games. Last weekend I had a lacrosse game and he had two baseball games and they were able to watch our games."
Why did the two of you choose Eastern?
Drew: "I chose Eastern a while ago because it was a good fit for me to play baseball, go to school to get a good academic degree, and play at a very competitive program."
Dean: "I think it was fitting for me because he was here. I got in a few schools but this was 1. economically better, cheaper, in-state, got some good financial aid, and 2. He was here, it was close, I had the ability to play a Division III sport and compete. That was also good it was at a high level and it's a pretty good team."
What do you guys do to each other that get you angry at one another?
Drew: "Tell the other one..."
Dean "... to do something."
Drew: "If I say 'Dean clean the dishes', I might have a plate flying at the back of my head. Pretty much if he tells me something to do or if I tell him something to do, it's like stepping on each other's toes. It doesn't work very well."
Dean: "Yeah, we got to work on our own clocks."
Who is the better all-around athlete?
Drew: "I am."
Dean: "No way."
Dean: "He's definitely bigger and stronger (but) I don't know about faster anymore."
Drew: "He played more sports and he was a three-sport athlete in high school and I only played two sports in high school. I played baseball, football and he played football, hockey and lacrosse."
Dean: Yeah, and I played baseball that covered up my whole life."
Drew: "He played more sports, but when it comes down to the little guy throwing the Frisbee or bean bag toss I have, but he played three sports in high school and he has more sport experience under his belt I'd say."
What do you do better than Dean?
Drew: "What do I do better than Dean?...I have consistent time-managing schedules."
Dean: "That's for dang sure."
Drew: "I think that comes with being older. I can wake up every day and know what I'm going to get done, what time I'm going to the gym, and what time I got to study. I think he wakes up and he's still got to figure it out."
What do you do better than Drew?
Dean: "Probably the best napper in the family. No."
Drew: "I think you're better with your friends, like caring about your friends."
Dean: "I care about hanging with my friends more, keeping in touch and keeping close relationships and stuff like that. I'm kind of more free-going like whatever comes up or if I think of it I'll do it. I usually don't have a set schedule and I do as I please."
How much contact do the two of you have in an ordinary day at school?
Drew: "Since we live together, a lot of contact. But say we didn't live together, because we didn't live together last year, almost every single day. We had to talk every day. Maybe there'd be a day or two where we wouldn't. I would say like one to two times a day saying 'what are you doing', 'you got any food', 'what are you doing later', 'you have work to do', 'what time's this game', 'what time's that game', talk about the family a little bit with what's going on."
Dean: "This year it's multiple times a day. Whether it's texting, phone calls, seeing each other..."
Drew: "...if he's locked out of the house."
Dean: "Or 'Yo, make me food? No'"
What do you guys both like best about Eastern?
Drew: "I like the ability to see my friends every day, play a sport and still get a good degree. It allows me to manage all areas of my life. If we had a bigger school, I'd be too consumed with the friends and what-not and wouldn't be able to focus on my sport. It's just a smaller together community so it allows you to have friends, play a sport, and go to school."
Dean: "I definitely like the fact that the size of the classes at Eastern, some aren't too big and you can actually get one-on-one help with teachers in your class if you needed it. That's helpful sometimes because I need that one-on-one help. Also, I like the fact that I have so many friends here and I get to see them all the time, where as in a big school you'd have to call them to hang out. Here, I can be walking in the student center or walking to class or walking home and I can say "what up' to them. It's a lot closer, it's more down to earth, the campus is pretty nice and I like that."
What are your plans for next year? As Drew will be graduating and you'll be the only one here, how do you feel about that?
Dean: "It's going to be different. I'm not going to have too many people to turn to if I've got something to talk to. There is always phones but it's a lot easier if I could just walk upstairs and go talk to him. It's going to be definitely different because I'm going to be the only one coming back to the house because all my roommates are seniors. I'm going to have a fresh group of friends, they're on the lacrosse team and stuff, but it's going to be different not being able to go upstairs and talk to him or having him to go to the grocery store or something like that. It's going to be different, I think it's going to be good, but at the same time I'm probably going to miss him leaving."
Western New England breaks free to post 16-10 win in NCAA opener
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Western New England University men's lacrosse team scored seven consecutive goals spanning the first and second halves and went on to a 16-10 victory over Eastern Connecticut State University in a first-round game of the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Golden Bear Stadium.
At right: Tyler Fresen
Less than two minutes after Eastern (10-8) took its only lead of the match midway through the second quarter, the Golden Bears (12-6) held the Warriors scoreless for 23 minutes and scored seven unanswered goals to build a six-goal, 11-5 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. On 14 possessions during that scoreless stretch, Eastern turned the ball over nine times, shot wide twice and hit the post once and had two attempts saved.
Sean Lawton and George Knapp scored three times each for Western New England, and Brandon Body made seven stops for the winners in net.
Sophomore attack Tyler Fresen (Newington) led Eastern with three goals and two assists, and junior All-America Mike Devine (Cheshire) followed with three goals. Freshman Blake Smaldone (Hamilton, MA) and senior Drew Deane (Vernon) combined for ten saves in net. Fresen finished the season with 14 goals and 15 assists in the team's final seven matches.
Eastern season scoring leader Mike Jordan (Cheshire) was limited to one goal and one assist.
Close defenders Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD), Chris Brown (Cohasset, MA) and Travis Tiger (Ridgefield) combined for nine ground ball for the Warriors, who turned the ball over 27 times -- equaling their third highest total this year. Senior midfielder Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won 16 of 27 faceoffs against three WNEU opponents.
Both teams had qualified for the NCAA tournament after winning their second straight conference playoff championships, Eastern in the Little East Conference and Western New England in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.
Buoyed by LEC titles, the men and women open in NCAAs today
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- In 2013, it took losing to bring out the winning in the Eastern Connecticut State University lacrosse teams, which went on to capture Little East Conference championships for the first time in the same season and qualify for the NCAA tournament.
In the midst of their worst season in program history, the women (7-11) overhauled their offense and defense after bottoming out in a frustrating 17-8 home loss in the regular-season finale to Western Connecticut State University two weeks ago. These adjustments, in concert with a resolve which prevailed while losses mounted, propelled the club to an improbable three-game run through the Little East Conference playoffs.
Less than a week later - after reviewing tape and making major changes to their offensive and defensive schemes -- the No. 5-seeded Warriors turned around to stun No. 4 Western, dispatching the Colonials (15-7) as efficiently as they themselves had been vanquished in the regular-season finale. Three days later, top-seeded Plymouth State fell in a hotly-contested match (8-6) - an outcome which stopped the Panthers' eight-game winning streak. In the final at the University of Southern Maine - team which had tripped up the homestanding Warriors by a goal in the 2010 championship game as the No. 5 seed - Eastern scored four straight goals after the Huskies struck first - and went on to their fourth conference championship, 10-7.
The conference title was the first for the senior class, which had previously lost twice in the final and once in the semifinals.
"Coming from the bottom made it so much more unbelievable," noted senior Daniela Marchitto, the LEC Midfielder-of-the-Year. "Every single person on the team contributed to this win. After every conference loss this year, we knew that we could have won, so going into the conference tournament, we knew that we could play with them. Since it was 'do-or-die' in the tournament, it got us to turn it on."
The team had hit rock-bottom after the regular-season loss to Western, which penetrated the Eastern defense at will to score on nearly half of its shots to defeat Eastern for the first time ever. The Colonials scored six of the game's first seven goals and were never headed. On their offensive end, the Warriors were bottled up, forced to take low-percentage, hurried shots and failing on two-third of just 17 tries.
The loss to Western was Eastern's third in a row and seventh in their last eight games and dropped them to a program-lowest No. 5 seed in the playoffs. Although the only conference wins had come to two of the losing LEC teams, wins had been attainable in all three LEC losses prior to Western.
"We had potential and were talented, but we were not winning. There was a lot of frustration," admitted Marchitto. "But the coaches made crucial changes (after the Western loss). We adjusted our defense and set specific goals for the offense. The coaches realized what we needed. Our defense was so poor against Western, that it was easy to see what we needed to fix. After that, it felt like a new team. It was the same players, but a new team."
After seeing how effective the changes were in the LEC opener against Western, the team was excited to see if they would be as productive against Plymouth, the top seed. They were. "We came out on fire," said Marchitto. "It was a fight, but there was never a moment of doubt."
For the seniors, the first two trips to the LEC final in 2010 and 2011 resulted in disappointing losses. This time, losing was not an option. "Everyone knew we could win this," said Marchitto. "It was pure desire, there was no stopping us. Southern Maine overlooked us. They were praying that we would beat (top-seeded) Plymouth, and we used that (to our advantage)."
Even in the dark moments of the season, Marchitto says that the bench players kept everyone's spirits up, and wanted only for the seniors to go out as winners.
"The role the bench played was so big," she said. "Everyone came to practice with a great attitude and enthusiasm. It was a real team atmosphere. Everyone knew and accepted their role, and that helped. In the playoffs, Haley (junior goalie Heslin) really stepped it up. The season was hard for her because we weren't helping her out. But her attitude in the tournament was inspiring. Her confidence was different in the tournament. She wanted it so bad. She said it was for the seniors."
In their fourth NCAA appearance, the women were scheduled to face No. 10 nationally-ranked College of New Jersey Wednesday night at Ewing, NJ at 7 p.m.
The Eastern men (10-7) overcame a 3-7 start - including a 7-6 regular-season conference loss at Keene State college April 6 - to successfully defend their 2012 LEC championship with a 9-8 victory on top-seeded Keene's home field Sunday.
Regardless of who wins the regular-season match in this rivalry, however, the teams, more often than not, met again in the final.
"I told (Keene head coach Mark Theriault) after they beat us, that we'd see them again in three weeks (in the final)," remembers junior All-America midfielder Mike Devine, who scored the tying and winning goals late in the championship game. "He looked at me and said, 'yup.'"
In nine previous championship games between Eastern and Keene, the top-seeded team - the one which had prevailed in the regular-season showdown - had emerged with the LEC gold medal at its home venue.
The championship trophy was the eighth for the Warriors in the 13-year history of the LEC championships - twice as many as Keene.
In previous years, losing the regular-season matchup had been a death blow for that team. This time, it was not. After losing that match to Keene and another four days later to nationally-ranked Wesleyan University (13-9), Eastern ran the table through the regular season and the LEC playoffs in order to qualify for their eighth NCAA tournament, third in five years.
In similar response to the women's loss to Western Connecticut in the regular-season finale, sixth-year men's coach Justin Axel was quite certain that, given a few tweaks, his team was capable of winning the title on Keene's home field, if they were, in fact, capable to getting to that point.
After crushing UMass Boston at home in the regular-season finale, 20-0, Eastern never eased off the gas peddle, routing Western Connecticut, 23-4, at home in the conference semifinals. Coming off a four-overtime road win over UMass Dartmouth in the first round, Western was overwhelmed by the Warriors, who scored all 15 goals of the first half en route to the easy victory.
To the surpise of absolutely no one, the Keene re-match at the Owl Athletic Complex lived up to its billing. As has become common in this rivalry, Eastern fell behind early (4-1), but answered with four straight goals and never trailed through the early minutes of the fourth quarter until Tyler McKelvie and JT Gallow struck ten seconds apart to give the hosts their final lead, 8-7, with 12 minutes left.
Still trailing by that margin with six minutes left, Devine broke through for his first goal since late in the first half to knot the game. A minute later, he beat Keene goalie Alex Sharp with his 33rd goal of the season. "I hadn't really been getting my hands free very much in the game," admitted Devine. "But I just turned around and just shot it. I'm a shooter, I'm a muscle guy, I'm not real quick. I just shot it far third (of the net), and it went in... thank God." The Eastern defense, which successfully killed all six of the Owls' man-up opportunities in the game, did the rest.
Since the emotional game was characterized by short stretches of dominance by each team, Devine wasn't completely sure that the lead would necessarily hold up over the final five minutes, but he had faith in the defense. "I felt that our defense would step up," he pointed out. "Blake (freshman goalie Smaldone) played outstanding, and top to bottom, (defensemen) Stoop (Nick), Brown (Chris) and Tiger (Travis) all played great. They should get most of the credit. They kept us in the game. We kinda struggled early (offensively), but our defense is just a bunch of solid guys who we trust."
Everyone wearing Keene's color was stunned by the final outcome - only Keene's second home loss all year --which touched off a celebration by the Eastern players and its fans.
"There was not a word coming out of the stands," recalled Devine of the minutes after the final horn sounded. "They're wild up there, but once that buzzer hit zero, I think everyone was in shock... except for the 45 guys in our locker room. From the start, no one thought that we would repeat as LEC champions, because of the way we started the regular season. But the only thing that mattered was us 45 guys believing it."
The men bring a seven-game winning streak into their NCAA opener at Western New England University Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Golden Bear Stadium. The Golden Bears are ranked No. 8 in New England and earned the automatic bid as the Commonwealth Coast Conference champion for the second straight season.
No player on either Eastern or Western New England had been involved when the teams last met in 2007 in a 17-6 WNEU victory.
Fifteen are recognized with season-ending LEC awards in three sports
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass - Eastern Connecticut State University softball senior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and head coach Diana Pepin and women's lacrosse senior Daniela Marchitto (Orange) were recognized with major awards in the Little East Conference season-ending awards program in the sports of softball, women's and men's lacrosse, with a total of 15 individuals in three sports being honored.
At left: Arielle Cooper
Cooper became the softball program's second straight Player-of-the-Year recipient (third overall) and 12th-year head coach Pepin was awarded Coach-of-the-Year honors for the fifth time in the last eight years, while Marchitto was selected women's lacrosse Midfielder-of-the-Year - an award instituted in 2011.
All-America junior midfielder Mike Devine (Cheshire) and senior faceoff specialist Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) were named to the All-LEC first team, headlining a collection of six all-conference selections for the men's lacrosse team, with senior defenseman Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD) and junior attacks Mike Jordan (Cheshire) and Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH) and junior midfielder Tyler Fresen (Newington) garnering second-team All-LEC accolades.
All six of the softball teams All-LEC picks received first-team recognition. Cooper was named to the team for the third time in her career (second straight season to the first team), and was joined by senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington), junior centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford), junior utility player Megan Godwin (Manchester) and sophomore DP Sam Rossetti (Shelton).
At left: Daniela Marchitto
Paterson was a second-team pick at the utility position as a junior while Brett and Rossetti were first-time honorees. Godwin was recognized as LEC Rookie-of-the-Year as a freshman. As a freshman at Endicott College in 2011, Brett was an honorable mention all-conference pick at shortstop. All except Rossetti started all 42 games for Eastern (28-14), which claimed its fourth straight LEC regular-season title and finished third in the LEC tournament.
Marchitto, a four-time all-conference pick and former Offensive Player-of-the-Year and Rookie-of-the-Year in soccer, earned first-team recognition in lacrosse for the third straight year. She was joined on the first team by senior defender Rachel Meotti (Glastonbury) and senior midfielder Christina Rully (Orange), her former high school teammate. Marchitto was preceded by seven former LEC Player-of-the-Year selections since 2005, four on defense and three on offense.
After transferring from the Division II level, Meotti earned All-LEC laurels in each of her three seasons with the Warriors. She was voted to the second team as a sophomore and junior.
Rully was cited for the first time in her four-year career.
Batting primarily leadoff, Cooper put the finishing touches on a sterling career and brilliant final season. She currently leads all conference players in virtually every offensive category, among them batting (.538), slugging (1.076), total bases (142), on-base percentage (.629), runs (61), hits (71), RBI (43), home runs (16), doubles (13), and walks (34). Her marks for batting, slugging, total bases, on-base percentage, runs, hits and home runs represented program season records, and her final season batting average was 99 points above her previous-season best, set last year.
Below: Diana Pepin
Through post-season tournament competition, Cooper is ranked second nationally in on-base percentage, third in slugging, fourth in home runs, home runs per game and batting, and seventh in walks and runs per game.
Paterson batted a career-high .356 this season to push her career average over .300 to .309. She was second to Cooper with 42 RBI - more than twice as many as her previous high total in a season. Playing primarily first base, but also second, she completed her career ranked fifth all-time with 642 putouts and tied for sixth with a .984 fielding average.
Brett was second to Cooper in most offensive categories, batting .378 (73 percentage points better than her sophomore season) with 41 runs, 51 hits and 12 stolen bases (in 12 attempts).
In her first season as a starter, Rossetti also played first base and right field and batted .368 - third best on the squad - with five home runs and 35 RBI. Godwin started 20 games in the middle infield and 16 in left field. She posted career-highs in batting (.344), hits (42), RBI (26), runs (28) and on-base percentage (.434).
Marchitto is tied for fourth in the conference in goals (55) and is fourth in points (66) and leads the club in scoring for the second straight year. With Marchitto, Eastern (7-11) became only the second No. 5 seed to win the LEC playoffs, with road victories over three higher-seeded teams: No. 4 seed Western Connecticut, top-seeded Plymouth State University, and No. 2 University of Southern Maine. Marchitto needs two goals to become the third 200-goal career scorer in program history and her 252 points ranks her second.
Meotti ranks fourth in the conference with 57 ground balls and also leads Eastern with 36 caused turnovers and is second with 45 draw controls - all season-bests. In the LEC playoffs, Meotti led Eastern with 13 ground balls and ten caused turnovers, won four draws and chipped in two assists.
Rully has contributed six goals, six assists, 35 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers.
The women's lacrosse team faces 13-time national champion College of New Jersey Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Ewing, NJ.
As the No. 2 seed, the men's lacrosse team (10-7) defended its 2012 Little East playoff title with a 9-8 victory at top-seeded Keene State College Sunday - its seventh straight victory since a 3-7 start.
Devine was named to the All-LEC first team for the second straight season, third time in all, while Dubinsky repeated as a first-team pick at the specialist position. Fresen repeated second-team mention and Morrissette and Jordan gained recognition for the first time.
Devine has 33 goals and 16 assists and is one of 11 100-goal scorers in program history. Dubinsky has won 52.6 percent of his faceoffs (173-329) with a team-high 102 ground balls, recording more than 100 for the second straight season. Ranking second all-time with 328 ground balls, Dubinsky is third all-time in faceoffs won, with 469.
After managing only 14 goals and 23 points in his first two season combineds, Jordan leads the LEC in points (66) and goals (46) this year, with seven of his goals and four assists coming in two LEC playoff victories. Morrissette shares second on the team with Devine with 33 points and has 47 points, while Fresen leads all Eastern players with 24 assists and is second to Jordan with 52 points.
While Eastern never allowed a conference opponent to score double-digit goals, Stoop was the team's only All-LEC defenseman chose to the all-star squad. Playing on his first LEC playoff champion this year after missing all of 2012 with a back injury, Stoop picked up 21 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers this year. Stoop is in his second year as an active player after transferring from the Division I level.
The Warriors visit Western New England University in the NCAA first round Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The LEC baseball awards will be announced next Tuesday following the completion of this week's conference tournament.
The men visit WNEU at 4 p.m., and the women travel to TCNJ at 7 p.m.
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - For the first time, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's and women's lacrosse teams will compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament in the same year, and both will open up on the road on Wednesday.
The women (7-11) face 13-time national champion College of New Jersey (13-4) at 7 p.m. at Lion's Stadium in their fourth NCAA appearance - first since 2008. The men (10-7), who moved into the New England poll today at No. 8, bring a season-high seven-game winning streak into their eighth NCAA tournament and face Western New England University (11-6) at 4 p.m. at Golden Bear Stadium. The Golden Bears are ranked in a tie for No. 4 in New England.
Both the Eastern women and men qualified as the representatives from the Little East Conference by winning the LEC playoff final Sunday on their opponent's home field. Seeded No. 5, the women eliminated three higher-ranked teams on the road, culminating in a 10-7 victory over No. 2 seed University of Southern Maine. Seeded No. 2, the men upended No. 1 Keene State College, 9-8. Eastern and Keene were meeting in the final for the tenth time and it was the first time that the visiting team won the title.
Ranked ninth nationally, New Jersey is making its 29th straight NCAA appearance, having reached the title match 17 times. Since winning back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, TCNJ has compiled an 11-6 NCAA record, winning its opener every season. Eastern has lost its NCAA opener every year.
Western New England will be competing in the NCAA tournament for the seventh time, having won its opening game a year ago in double overtime at Conn College before being eliminated at RIT, 15-9. Eastern is 1-7 in seven NCAA showings. Eastern and Western New England have met six times previously, the Golden Bears having won the first in 1996 and the most recent (17-6) in 2007 at Springfield, MA.
Thanks to Devine's intervention in final minutes, they become first visiting team to prevail in this Little East Conference title matchup with top-seeded Keene State College
KEENE, N.H. - In the previous ten seasons prior to 2013, Eastern Connecticut State University and Keene State College had squared off in the championship game of the Little East Conference playoffs nine times. Each time, the top-seeded team (and host) came out on top.
At left: Mike Devine. playoff MVP
That all changed Sunday, when the second-seeded Eastern men erased an early three-goal deficit, getting consecutive goals a minute apart from junior All-America and playoff MVP Mike Devine (Cheshire) inside the final six minutes, to upend No. 1 seed Keene State, 9-8, at the Owl Athletic Complex.
NCAA: Wednesday at Western New England, time TBA
Keene's (14-3) one-goal victory over Eastern (10-7) in the LEC regular-season opener for both schools a month ago tomorrow provided the Owls with the coveted home field advantage, but the Warriors instead won their seventh straight game after a 3-7 start, stopping Keene's eight-game victory skein and handing the Owls their first loss to a conference opponent in nine games this year.
The Eastern men will compete in their 11th post-season tournament as the conference's automatic representative to the NCAA tournament, visiting Western New England University in a first-round match Wednsday at a time not yet announced. It will be the Warriors' eighth appearance in the NCAA tourney, third in sixth years under head coach Justin Axel. WNEU (11-6) is the automatic qualifier from the Commonwealth Coast Conference and is making its seventh NCAA appearance in the last 12 years.
The title is the second straight and eighth overall, and follows by a mere two hours the fifth-seeded Eastern's women's 10-7 upset at second-seeded University of Southern Maine in that lacrosse championship final. Although the Eastern men and women have combined for 12 LEC championships, this season marks the first time that they have accomplished it in the same season. It is the tenth time in 13 years that either the Eastern women or men have attained the LEC playoff championship.
At right: Defenseman Nick Stoop (31) is among nine Eastern seniors headed to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.
A marked man this year by opponents, Devine had struggled at times this year coming off his All-America sophomore season, and was limited to just one goal (albeit an important one) as the Warriors trailed by a goal heading into the final minutes of regulation. After Keene scored consecutive goals by freshman attack Tyler McKelvie and sophomore midfielder JT Galloway ten seconds apart to took over the lead with 12 minutes left, Devine unleashed consecutive unassisted scoring strikes one minute apart to decide the outcome.
Freshman goalie Blake Smaldone (Hamilton) posted his second LEC playoff win in three days, making a14 stops, and the Warriors' man-down unit did its part by killing off all six of the hosts' extra-man opportunities.
Although the Warriors trailed early by three goals, they answered with four straight - one each by junior attack and leading scorer Mike Jordan (Cheshire), Devine, freshman midfielder Ryan Scott (Norwalk), and junior attack Tyler Fresen (Newington) - and never trailed again until McKelvie and Galloway scored ten seconds apart.
Three times in the second half, Keene answered Eastern's go-ahead goal with the tying one.
While every Eastern-Keene championship match has been hotly-contested since 2004 (five previous ones decided by four goals or less), this year's was the first to be determined by one goal.
Defending champs will meet Keene in title game for tenth time
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Based upon the events of ten days ago, few could have predicted Eastern Connecticut State University's Little East Conference semifinal-round onslaught against Western Connecticut State University Friday night at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
At left: Eastern's Tyler Fresen (37) draws attention from Western defenseman Zach Bartlett in the first half of Friday's Little East victory. (Photo by Courtney Weber).
After struggling to a 12-9 triumph over Western in the final regular-season road match of the year April 23, second-seeded Eastern unloaded both barrels Friday, scoring 15 unanswered goals in the first half and waltzing to a 23-4 victory over the sixth-seeded Colonials (9-9).
With its fifth straight victory, defending tournament champion Eastern (9-7) moves into its annual LEC championship confrontation with top-rated Keene State College Sunday at the Owl Athletic Complex at 3 p.m.. Keene (14-2) won its eighth straight in Friday's other semifinal, dispatching fourth-seeded Plymouth State University, 19-9 for its seventh home victory in eight outings. Eastern has lost five of nine road contests this year, but is 3-1 away from home against LEC opponents, the one loss a 7-6 decision at Keene State a month ago.
Eastern and Keene have met in the title game nine times in the last ten years, Eastern having captured five. In each game, the home team has won.
All six Eastern goalies saw time, with freshman starter Blake Smaldone (Hamilton, MA) winning his fifth match in seven decisions. Smaldone made five saves without giving up a goal in the first half, and departed after the Colonials got on the board 32 seconds into the second half.
Thirteen different players contributed a goal or assist, led by junior attacks Mike Jordan (Cheshire) and Trevor Morrissette (Bedford, NH). Jordan had five goals and four assists and Morrissette five goals, with junior midfielder Tyler Fresen (Newington) adding two goals and three assists and sophomore midfielder Dean Accomando (Monroe) a goal and three helpers.
Senior midfielder Josh Dubinsky (Woodstock) won ten of 14 faceoffs and picked up nine ground balls.
With the victory, Eastern improved to 14-0 all-time in this series, four of the contests coming in the LEC playoffs.
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University freshman goalie Brendan Gillotti (Danbury) has been selected Rookie-of-the-Week in the Little East Conference for the week ending April 28.
Making his first start of the season since the opening game, Gillotti made 19 saves in a 12-9 Little East Conference victory at Western Connecticut State University this past Tuesday. Seven of the saves came on Western's 13 first-quarter shots when the Colonials took a 4-2 lead after 15 minutes. Gillotti allowed only three goals in the second half .
The 19 saves are the most by an Eastern goalie this year. Of the 26 goals allowed by Gillotti this year, 14 came in the opener against nationally-ranked Stevens Tech, when he faced a season-high 44 shots.
This year for the 8-7 Warriors, Gillotti has appeared in five matches with two starts, a 10.78 goals-against average and .600 save percentage.
Gillotti becomes the program's second weekly honoree this year, following junior attack Mike Jordan (Cheshire), who was named Offensive Player-of-the-Week April 1. Prior to today, the program's last Rookie-of-the-Week was freshman goalie Donald Berube in May of 2010.
As the No. 2 seed in the Little East Conference playoffs, Eastern hosts a semifinal-round match Friday at 7 p.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
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.
LEC Tournament Central
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.
Surging Warriors even overall record, close in on LEC playoff bye
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.