KEENE, N.H. 4/16/11 – The Keene State College men's lacrosse team overcame an eight goal first half deficit to post a 19-17 come-from-behind win over Eastern Conn. State University in a battle of top Little East Conference men's lacrosse teams at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday night. Extending its winning streak to five games, KSC (8-2, 3-0 LEC) moves into sole possession of first place in the LEC.
The Owls, who trailed 13-5 late in the first half, scored eight unanswered goals to tie the game at 13-all and took the lead for good 15-14 on a goal by junior Taylor Jette (Simsbury, Conn.) with 18 seconds to play in the third quarter.
"You probably couldn't print half the stuff I said at halftime," said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. "I told them they were out-hustling us, more physical than us and beat us in every aspect of the game in the first half. I told them they needed to step it up and start play lacrosse the way that we can. In my 12 years this is the best comeback that I've ever had."
"I don't think a lot of people thought we could come back," said junior Matt Schairer (Wrentham, Mass.), who finished with a game high six goals to go with two assists. "This is a game we'll be talking about for years."
Leading 7-5, ECSU netted six consecutive goals to take a 13-5 lead. KSC came out of the locker room like a different team, scoring the first seven goals of the third quarter, tying the game (13-13) on a goal by senior Mike Araujo (Southboro, Mass.). Schairer was the catalyst of the comeback, scoring three of the Owls goals in the flurry.
Jette scored an even up goal at the end of the third quarter and a man-up goal to start the fourth quarter to put KSC up 16-14. Junior Sailieu Bolivar (Norwalk, Conn.) got the Warriors within a goal (17-16) with 7:31 to play, but goals by juniors Matthew Crimmins (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and Griffin Meehan (Avon, Conn.) pushed the Owls lead back up to three goals (19-16).
As expected, ECSU senior All-American Eric Vasil (Southington, Conn.) was virtually unstoppable in the circle, winning 28 of 37 face-offs and scooping up 23 ground balls. Theriault made some adjustments in the second half, including inserting defenseman Sean LeBlanc in the circle. "We know Vasil is one of the best in the nation and he was doing what he wanted to do in the first half," said Theriault. "We started dropping a few long poles in the face-off to mix it up a little and it helped out tremendously."
"We put Sean LeBlanc (Simsbury, Conn.) at midfield and he helped neutralize Vasil and down low I thought he played the best game I ever seen him play," said Schairer.
Meehan, who kept KSC in the game in the early going, finished with five goals and two assists while Jette found the back of the net four times.
Freshman Mike Devine (Cheshire, Conn.) had four goals and sophomore Eric Kluge (North East, Md.) and junior Mike Sullinger (Brookfield, Conn.) and Boliver each finished with three goals for the Warriors (7-4, 2-1 LEC).
KSC sophomore goalie Jason Leser (Brewster, N.Y.), who made a key stop against Kluge in the closing minute, finished with 10 saves. ECSU sophomore goalie David Berube (Tewksbury, Mass.) finished with 13 saves.
Theriault said his team learned a lot from the game. "First it humbles us because of the first half. We can't expect come here at home and expect to win, but at the same time shows we're able to turn around and come back from an eight goal deficit shows a lot of perseverance about our team."
Keene State host UMass-Boston on Tuesday.