MANSFIELD, Conn. -- The Keene State College men's lacrosse team held Eastern Connecticut State University scoreless for the first 22 minutes and never trailed in an 11-6 Little East Conference win between the two previously unbeaten conference teams.
In a battle between teams which have combined to win all 13 LEC regular-season titles and all but one playoff championship, Keene State (4-6, 3-0 LEC) capitalized on numerous Eastern (6-5, 2-1 LEC) turnovers (20 in the game), scoring in transition to capture its third straight (LEC) game following a six-game losing streak.
At right: Tyler Vallie (34) drew plenty of attention from Keene State in Saturday's loss. (Photo by Mitch Power)
Sophomore team scoring leader Tyler McElvie set the tone immediately for Keene by scoring his team's first two goals – his only two of the game – and second-leading scorer Ryan Hart made it 3-0 ten minutes into play.
The Warriors, who defeated top-seeded Keene to win their eighth LEC playoff title (second straight) a year ago, twice pulled to within one goal, but a string of three straight Keene goals to open the third quarter – two by freshman third-leading scorer Tyler Reilly – pushed the Keene lead to four, 7-3, with seven minutes left in the quarter.
After holding the Warriors from scoring for the first 22 minutes, Keene put the clamps on Eastern for another 20-minute stretch beginning in the final minutes of the first half and moving out to its 7-3 lead.
Keene couldn't not capitalize on any of its six extra-man opportunities but it did make the Warriors play for many of their turnovers and never let the home team score as many as three consecutive goals.
Eastern's final effort to catch the Owls came in the final minutes, when sophomore transfers Tim Reilly (Hanover, MA) and Nick Carisio (Cheshire) scored a minute apart to make it a three-goal differential. Keene missed a shot after winning the ensuing faceoff, but the Warriors coughed up the ball trying to clear, and sophomore Joe Sialiano's off a pass from freshman Bryan Rotatori helped Keene regain the momentum and a four-goal lead with four minutes left.
Sophomore James Dowd won 12 of 20 faceoffs for Keene, and nine different players contributed a goal or assist. Freshman Robert Hart had two goals and three assists and sophomore goalie Dylan Florian made nine saves for the winners.
Sophomore Blake Smaldone (Hamilton, MA) made 15 stops in net for Eastern, seven in the second quarter when he allowed only one goal. No Eastern player had more than one goal.
Eastern hosts Massachusetts Dartmouth in a conference game Wednesday at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.