DANBURY, CT – Trailing 9-1 midway through the second quarter, the third-seeded Western Connecticut State University men's lacrosse team rallied. However, the comeback attempt would fall short as they fell to visiting sixth-seeded UMass-Boston, 11-7, in the quarterfinal round of the Little East Conference Championship Tournament on Tuesday night. With the loss, the Colonials campaign came to an end at 10-8 overall, while the Beacons improved to 5-13 and advanced where they will meet No. 2 Plymouth State in the semifinals hosted by top-seeded Keene State on Friday at 7 p.m.
Senior midfielder Robert Swensen (Danbury, CT) and junior attackman Ryan Reuling (Groton, CT) paced WestConn with two goals each, while junior Eric Caldwell (East Moriches, NY) chipped in with one scoring strike and an assist.
Junior attackman Ned Parker (Stafford, VA) led UMass-Boston with a game-high four goals, while rookie attackman Darragh Fahey (Walpole, MA) added a goal and dished out a game-high three helpers.
The visitors finished ahead in shots, 48-37, and face offs, 13-9. The Colonials came close to overcoming the deficit but fired the ball off the post and crossbar on several occasions throughout.
After the Beacons opened up the scoring, WestConn knotted the count at 1-1 when Swensen fired home a man-up shot with one second remaining on the penalty.
The visitors took control in the second quarter, reeling off an 8-0 run, which included converting a trio of man-up chances. Fahey began the assault when he tallied with 17 seconds left in the first quarter. They rounded out the run midway through the second when sophomore attackman Conor Lenfest (Waltham, MA) found the back of the net off a feed from junior Cam Hladick (Natick, MA), widening the gap to 9-1.
Rookie goalkeeper Derek Strine (Bayport, NY) then entered the contest in relief for the Colonials and helped stop the bleeding. He would hold the Beacons scoreless until late in the final quarter, stopping seven shots en route to a stellar performance.
WestConn rallied with a 6-0 flurry that began late in the second. Reuling got things rolling with a pair to cut it to 9-3 at halftime. The lead shrank to 9-7 early in the fourth when Caldwell found his classmate Timothy Yanucci (Coram, NY) for a quick-stick man-up tally in close. Caldwell then capped the surge with his team-leading 48th goal of the season, a wicked spinning backhanded shot with yet another man advantage just 40 seconds later.
The count remained at 9-7 until Beacon sophomore Jack O'Brien (East Longmeadow, MA) scored on a sharp-angled shot with 4:09 left on the clock to albeit seal the win. Moments later, junior Derek Caruso (Port Washington, NY) came off a vicious pick and scurried in all alone to wrap things up at 11-7.
WestConn will look to continue moving in a strong and positive direction in 2020 as they will be returning a hefty group of starters.