BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Conditioning was a point of emphasis in the pre-season for first-year head coach Marc Graham upon taking over the program last summer, and the daily drills have already paid dividends. Despite a roster of only 23 players, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team excelled in the final minutes for the second time in as many matches this year, holding Massachusetts Maritime Academy to one goal over the final 14 minutes and posting a 14-11 non-conference victory Thursday evening at Clean Harbors Stadium.
In the first meeting ever between the programs, neither team led by more than three goals, with the Warriors (2-0) snapping the sixth and final tie with eight minutes left to spark a final 4-1 scoring run that provided the Warriors with their second three-goal win in three days under Graham.
Playing their season-opener, the Buccaneers scored twice in 15 seconds early in the final quarter to pull even at 10-all before Eastern responded with the next three goals. Junior attack Brett Chin (Framingham, MA) assisted on the first of the three goals and scored the second in the key stretch which lifted the Warriors into a comfortable 13-10 lead with only 1:34 left. The hosts got one back 18 seconds later but junior midfielder Jacob Testa (Southington) secured the win with his second goal of the quarter on a feed from freshman midfielder Garrett Lapham (Trumbull) with 61 seconds left.
Senior attack Matthew Rougeot (Cheshire), the program's leading active career scorer, accounted for all three Eastern goals in the first quarter, and chipped in the final goal in the last minute of the second to give the Warriors an 8-6 halftime lead. Chin contributed to three goals in the period by scoring two and assisting on one.
Rougeot and Chin (two assists) paced Eastern with four goals each and sophomore attack Jake Liebowitz (Trumbull) dished out four assists.
The Bucs outshot the Warriors, 40-32, and won 15 of 27 faceoffs. Junior goalie Jack Farrell (Stratford) improved to 2-0 in as many lifetime starts by stopping 14 shots. Sophomore midfielder Tyler Stein (Milford) won half of his 24 faceoff attempts (picking up a team-high six ground balls) and the Eastern man-down defense snuffed out three of MMA's four extra-man opportunities. Senior pole Trevor Ross (Stratford) corralled five ground balls and sophomore pole Dominick Biasetti (Brookfield) caused three turnovers.
Eastern had given Graham his first win at Eastern Tuesday by keeping Johnson & Wales University off the board over the final eight minutes to also snap a 10-all tie in a 10-7 road victory in the season-opener.
Mass Maritime is playing its final season in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and is set to join Eastern in the Little East Conference as the tenth lacrosse-playing member.
Eastern visits Lasell College Tuesday at 3 p.m. in a non-conference match. The contest will be the first in 11 years between the programs, with Lasell winning the first meeting, 10-7, in Newton, MA.