Men's Lacrosse: In Home-Opener, Defense Again Sparks Warriors in Second Straight Win

Sophomore midfielder Anthony Choronzy moves the ball against Eric Russo during Eastern's 13-8 home-opening non-conference victory over Johnson & Wales University Tuesday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. Choronzy led all players in the match with eight ground balls. (Photo by Nick McAneny)
Sophomore midfielder Anthony Choronzy moves the ball against Eric Russo during Eastern's 13-8 home-opening non-conference victory over Johnson & Wales University Tuesday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. Choronzy led all players in the match with eight ground balls. (Photo by Nick McAneny)

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Three days after keeping Gordon College off the scoreboard for the final 40 minutes of a five-goal win, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team blanked Johnson & Wales University for 26 consecutive minutes to turn a one-goal deficit into a six-goal lead en route to a 13-8 non-conference win Tuesday afternoon in the 2018 home-opener at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

Eastern (2-1) scored twice less than a minute apart to tie the match and after Johnson & Wales (1-3) took its final lead (6-5), Eastern's defense did not allow a goal for the next 26 minutes, getting two goals and an assist from senior attack Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire) and a pair from  senior attack Connor Wyllie (Somers). Freshman midfielder Connor Hillemeir (Farmington) also chipped in with his first career goal in that stretch, opening the fourth quarter with his first strike,

Eastern continued to dominate this season at the faceoff "X", with three first-year midfielders: Matt Robidoux (Cheshire) won 13 of 17, Hillemeir 6 of 6 and Tyler Stein (Milford) capturing the final faceoff with 1:29 left in the match. By taking 20 of 24 against two Wildcat opponents, Eastern's faceoff trio improved their season percentage to .667 (48-of-72).

Eastern doubled the Wildcats' shot total, unloading 64 shots – 25 in a five-goal second period – and forcing Wildcat sophomore goalie Bradley Morris to make 29 saves – 20 in the first half.

In his first appearance of the season, junior Chris Gorman (Shrewsbury, MA) stopped 11 shots.

During its run of seven straight goal when the Warriors kept the visitors off the board, the Warriors were 8-of-10 from the faceoff "X", forced six turnovers and kept relentless pressure with 26 shots.

Wildcat senior midfielder Eric Russo doubled his goal total on the year in the game by connecting on half of his eight shots – all in the first 20 minutes when he struck for four of his team's five goals in sparking the Wildcats to a 5-3 lead 20 minutes into action. Team scoring leader Ben Farrell – a junior midfielder with nine goals in the first three matches -- collected nine of his team's 33 shots but came up empty against Gorman.

At right: Harrison Urda (30) leaves a fallen Tony DeMarche behind en route to two goals and three assists on the afternoon in Tuesday's 13-8 non-conference victory over Johnson & Wales University in the 2018 home-opener at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

All-Little East Conference midfielder Harrison Urda (Milford, NH) figured in five of Eastern's goals by scoring a pair and handing out three assists. Urda leads the club with eight assists and 14 points.

Sophomore midfielder Anthony Choronzy (Clinton) picked up eight ground balls to help the Warriors to a 43-13 advantage in that category. Hillemeir won five ground balls and Urda four.

During spring break Eastern plays two matches at Whittier, CA at 4 p.m. ET, facing host Whittier College Sunday and Southwestern University (TX) Tuesday.