MANSFIELD, Conn. – Junior Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire) equaled the Eastern Connecticut State University match record with eight goals and the fourth-seeded Warriors broke fast and held off fifth-seeded University of Southern Maine, 17-14, in the opening round of the 2017 Little East Conference men's lacrosse playoffs Tuesday night at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
Following its17th consecutive victory over Southern Maine (6-10) Eastern (8-9) faces top-seeded host Keene State College Thursday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. Southern Maine (6-10) ends the season on a four-game losing streak.
Rougeot, who shares the LEC lead with 47 goals this year – equaling the fourth-most in a season in Eastern history – potted two goals when the Warriors scored the first six of the game in the first ten minutes of play. He then broke USM's run of five in a row (which cut the lead to 6-5) with his third of the game, opened the second half with a pair 15 seconds apart to make it 10-6 and recorded his final three over the last 17 minutes of action.
Rougeot helped Eastern to a slim 48-44 advantage in shots. Rougeot (17) and junior Harrison Urda (Milford, NH) combined for 27shots, with Urda connecting on five goals, including the first two of the game and a key one in the final minute of the first half that carried the Warriors into an 8-6 lead at the break.
Junior Nate DelGiudice led USM with five goals and an assist and senior Keegan Smith delivered four assists. Smith leads the conference with 31.
Eastern junior Chris Gorman (Shrewsbury, MA) stopped 14 shots while USM junior Zach Bessette made 11 saves. Eastern senior Jesse Schulze (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) won 23 of his 30 faceoff attempts against three Southern Maine faceoff opponents. Freshman team ground ball leader Anthony Choronzy (Clinton) supported Schulze by picking up a career-high 11 ground balls -- most of them off the faceoff -- to spark the Warriors to a 35-21 advantage in that department. Junior LSM Trevor Ross (Stratford) equalled his season high five GBs
After the teams had piled up 17:30 minutes worth of penalties in the regular-season meeting, they were whistled for only three minutes this time around.