DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Looking to exact a measure of revenge for its only loss in the last three weeks, the fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team stayed within striking distance throughout much of the match before dropping a season-ending 9-6 decision to No. 4 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the first round of the Little East Conference playoffs Tuesday night at Cressy Field.
Eastern (7-9) never led against UMass (8-9) but tied the scored three times in the first half before being shut out in the third quarter and trailed by what proved to be an insurmountable 8-4 deficit entering the final 15 minutes.
UMass advances to Friday's conference semifinals while Eastern failed in its effort to return to the .500 mark for the first time in six weeks. Eastern had won three of its final four regular-season games, the only setback coming at the hands of the Corsairs, 11-5, exactly one week ago at Cressy Field. UMass had lost four of its final six regular-season games prior to Tuesday.
The hosts piled up a 43-13 advantage in shots – including 13-0 in the third quarter -- but the stellar play of junior goalie Jack Farrell (Stratford) -- last week's LEC Goalie-of-the-Week -- kept the Warriors close until the final minutes. Farrell stopped a career-high 21 shots -- just four shy of the program match record and equaling the ninth most in a match in program history. Junior goalie Ted McCaffery needed only three saves to record his second win over Eastern this season.
As his been a trademark this year, the Warriors were able to stay out of the penalty box for much of the game. They gave the Corsairs only three man-up opportunities, and killed all of them off.
Eastern cashed in the only extra-man goal of the game, that coming with 3:40 left by senior attack Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire) that pulled the Warriors to within the final three-goal margin. Eastern sophomore midfielder Tyler Stein (Milford) got the ball back by winning the ensuing faceoff, but the Warriors turned the ball over and never regained possession as UMD ran out the clock.
Stein and first-year sophomore midfielder Michael Parker (Colchester) combined to win ten of 19 faceoffs, the pair giving Eastern a chance to rally in the second half by winning five of seven. Stein was 6-of-13 and Parker 4-of-6 in the game. After attempting only 49 attempts and winning 45 percent as a freshman, Stein moved into a lead role this year, attempting 78 percent of the total chances and winning 49 percent.
The team's leading scorer for the second time in three years, Rougeot scored his only goal Tuesday in a man-up situation with four minutes left – the final goal of 2019. Rougeot found the back of the net in all 16 matches this year, giving him 125 goals and 161 points this year. He finished fourth all-time in goals and 13th all-time in points.
Following a freshman season that included ten assists and six goals, sophomore attack Jake Liebowitz (Trumbull) developed into this year's second-leading scorer with 28 goals and 45 points to go along with a team-high 17 assists. Junior midfielder Anthony Choronzy (Clinton) chipped in 12 goals and 14 assists and was first among non-faceoff midfielders with 47 ground balls – moving him into tenth place all-time with 192.