WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Early last month, Eastern Connecticut State University seniors Jesse Schulze (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) and Alex Zachary (Enfield) officially closed out their collegiate careers while participating in their respective Little East Conference tournaments.
Friday -- before the final curtain went down -- the pair represented Eastern for the final time by competing in their respective New England senior all-star games – an honor reserved for the most accomplished players in the region.
Schulze a four-year member of the lacrosse program at the faceoff position, started and took all but four of a the team’s 35 faceoffs in helping his West team to a 17-15 victory over the East at the NEILA (New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association) All-Star Game Friday night at Stagg Field on the campus of Springfield College.
Earlier in the day, Zachary started in center field and batted third in the order when the College Division (Division II and III) All-Stars tied the University Division (Division I) All-Stars, 3-3, at the 43rd Annual NEIBA (New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association)/Joe Walsh All-Star Game at McCoy Stadium, the Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox located in Pawtucket, RI.
A total of 52 players representing 32 Division I, II and III programs competed in the NEILA game, with Schulze one of 37 Division III senior players selected for the game. First-year Eastern assistant coach Liam Murphy (Dover, NH) also represented Eastern in the game. A participant as a senior in 2016, Murphy was one of three individuals chosen to coach the West team.
At right: For the second straight year, Liam Murphy (red shirt) found himself on the sidelines at the New England Senior All-Star Game -- this time as a coach. At far right in photo is Jesse Schulze.
Zachary was among 13 Division III seniors named to the baseball all-star game, five of whom came from the Little East Conference.
Both Schulze and Zachary were voted first-team All-Little East Conference this past season, with Zachary gaining additional recognition as LEC and New England Player-of-the-Year and first-team All-America.
Friday, Schulze won 12 of 14 faceoffs in the first half (85.7 percent) and finished the game by capturing 17 of 31 (54.8), five times picking up the ground ball himself. Seven of his faceoff wins led directly to West goals. The West trailed only twice in the game, never by more than a goal, and scored the first four goals of the second half to move out to its largest lead, 12-7 midway through the third quarter.
Schulze won five of seven faceoffs in the first quarter – including the first three of the game – and seven of nine in the second quarter. Late in the first half, he picked up ground balls to win two consecutive faceoffs, which led directly to goals, snapping the final tie of the game and pushed the West into an 8-6 lead with 1:20 left in the first half.
As a three-year starter at Eastern, Schulze concluded as one of two faceoff specialists in program history with more than 1,000 career attempts (1,010) and one of three with at least 500 wins (545). He ranks second all-time in attempts and third in wins.
Zachary, who finished his two-year Eastern career ranked third all-time in slugging (.685) and eighth in batting (.391), was hitless in four at-bats Friday following a three-week layoff since the LEC tournament. Facing four different Division I pitchers Friday, Eastern’s 2017 team captain reached base once on a fourth-inning fielder’s choice, advancing to second on a throwing error, but was stranded when Taylor Cacciola of UMass Dartmouth struck out looking with the College Division trailing, 2-1.
In center field, Zachary handled four fly balls effortlessly, making an inning-ending running catch in the left field gap off the bat of Northeastern’s Charlie McConnell that ended the eighth inning and stranded two runners in scoring position with the College Division trailing, 3-2.