MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University scored the final four goals of the fourth quarter to rally past third-seeded University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 9-7, this evening in the semifinals of the 2014 Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament.
The second-seeded Warriors (11-5) will advance to face top-seeded Keene State College (9-6) on Sunday, May 4 for the conference championship and automatic qualification into the 2014 NCAA Division III Championship tournament.
The Corsairs completed their campaign with an overall mark of 13-5, matching the program record for wins in a single-season. The eight UMass Dartmouth seniors--Jared Wright (Gloucester, Mass.), Nick Thayer (Chelmsford, Mass.), Steven Tarpey (Shrewsbury, Mass.), Justin Lawless (Quincy, Mass.), Todd Davis II (Sandwich, Mass.), Dan Dawley (Revere, Mass.) Jordan MacPherson (Westwood, Mass.), and Adam Niden (Walpole, Mass.)--completed the most successful four-year class in program history with a combined record of 46-20.
MacPherson matched his season-high with four points, on three goals and an assist, to lead the Corsairs. Niden talled a hat trick for three points, while Davis handed out a pair of helpers. Davis and Tarpey shared the team-high in ground balls with four, while Lawless and Wright caused a turnover.
The visitors scored the only marker of the third quarter to take a 5-4 lead into the final stanza. The hosts quickly forged a 5-all tie, finding the back of the net just 10 seconds into the quarter.
UMass Dartmouth countered with two goals within the span of 76 seconds to earn their second, two-goal lead of the contest. Niden registered his 26th marker of the season off a feed from junior Tyler Chasnov (Plymouth, Mass.), while MacPherson produced his third goal of the contest off an assist from Davis to extend the visitors lead to 7-5.
Eastern Connecticut trim its deficit to 7-6 a minute later, when Tim Reilly finished a feed from Cody Carbone for his 21th marker of the season. Carbone knotted the contest at 7-all at the 7:33 mark, completing a pass from Nick Carisio. The Warriors continued to ride their momentum as Tyler Fresen netted the eventual game-winner with 5:29 remaining in regulation before adding an insurance marker just over a minute later.
Blake Smaldone turned aside 13 UMass Dartmouth attempts, including three shots in the fourth quarter, to earn the victory. Thayer made a total of nine stops in a losing effort.
The Corsairs held a 29-25 advantage in shots, while converting on two of their seven extra-man opportunites. UMass Dartmouth forced the Warriors into 18 turnovers, while only committing nine of their own. Eastern Connecticut dominated the X, winning 13 of the 18 restarts.