LEC Championship: Goalie Tommins leads Warriors over Owls 13-10
MANSFIELD, CONN. 5/5/12 – Sometimes in sports you just have to tip your cap, or in this case your helmet, to your opponent. That was the case Saturday at the Madison (Conn.) Sports Complex where Eastern Conn. State senior goalie Jamie Tommins (Fairfield, Conn.) backboned the top seeded Warriors to a 13-10 win over second seed Keene State College in the championship game of the Little East Conference men's lacrosse tournament.
Eastern Conn. (12-5), which captures its seventh Little East title, dethrones the two- time champion Owls, who conclude their season with a 10-6 record.
Tommins, named the tournament's most outstanding player, was terrific for Eastern, making a career-high 24 saves, including several point-blank stops when the game was on the line early in the fourth quarter. "It was his day," said a disappointed KSC Coach Mark Theriault. "He came up huge."
The game started out like a typical Keene State-Eastern Conn. battle with both teams looking to gain momentum. Keene State took a 2-0 lead on goals by freshman Kevin Carey (Mohopac, N.Y.) and junior Taylor Jette (Simsbury, Conn.), but the Warriors scored the next three goals to go up 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.
The Owls netted the final two goals of the first half with Jette tying the game at four-all and junior J.T. Galloway (Simsbury, Conn.) scoring a man-up goal to give Keene State a 5-4 halftime lead.
After giving up an early third quarter goal that knotted the score (5-5), Keene State appeared to seize control, reeling off three straight goals to go up 8-5. Set up by freshman Ryan Hart (Richmond, N.H.) at the right side of the cage, senior Matt Schairer (Wrentham, Mass.) swiped the ball past Tommins to make it 6-5. Just over a minute later, junior Ian Hart (Richmond, N.H.) raced in from the right side and beat Tommins with a shot to the top corner of the net. Galloway finished off the flurry a minute later. The Owls stole the ball and Schairer found Galloway alone in front to give KSC a three goal (8-5) lead.
The tables turned form there as the Warriors netted seven unanswered goals to take a 12-8 lead. Tommins triggered the turnaround, stopping a shot by Ryan Hart at the door step of the goal. Sophomore Trevor Morrissette, who finished with four goals, tied the game at 8-8 and senior Jerry Cogliano completed the uprising with a goal that put the Warriors up 12-8 at the 9:25 mark of the fourth quarter. "We had an opportunity for one more goal and their goalie made a phenomenal save," said Theriault. "They came down and scored and built momentum from there."
Keene State tried to get back into the game. Carey came from behind the net to score his second goal of the game to make it 12-9 and Jette, down on his knees, scored his fourth goal of the game to cut the Warriors lead to 12-10 with 4:50 remaining.
Looking to pressure the ball, KSC had a defensive breakdown and a wide-open Morrissette scored his fourth goal of the game to put Eastern up 13-10 with 2:48 to play.
Schairer had two goals for the Owls, giving him 42 for the season. He completes his three-year KSC career fourth all-time in goals (149) and third all-time in points (232). Jette's four goals gave him a team-high 46 goals.
KSC junior goalie Jason Leser (Brewster, N.Y.) finished the game with nine saves.
Keene State outshot the Warriors 55-33, but lost the battle in the circle, winning just eight of 26 face-offs.
"The game was more about a goalie than changing anything we did. If he didn't save those goals, we would've come out on top, said Theriault. "It was a quintessential Keene-Eastern final. It's always going to be a good game."
It was the ninth time the Owls and Warriors have faced-off against each other in the LEC finals. Keene State won the crown in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011.