Keene State Picked Second in LEC Preseason Poll

Owls come up short at LEC championships; fall to Warriors 12-8
Owls come up short at LEC championships; fall to Warriors 12-8

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Eastern Connecticut State University snapped Keene State College's three-year reign as the Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse preseason favorite after each of the eight conference coaches' casted their vote in the annual poll. The Warriors edged the Owls by just two points to sit atop the preseason rankings for the sixth time in the nine-year history of the league.

Keene State won nine of its 12 games last year, including five of six in the conference circuit to earn the second seed in the annual Little East Championship. The Owls were also upset in the semifinal round in overtime by the eventual champion, Western Connecticut. Head Coach Mark Theriault enters the campaign just seven victories shy of earning his 100th career win. Last spring, Keene State sported the top-ranked offense in the league, averaging 12.33 goals per game. Tony Santa Fe, the 2008 Little East Conference Player of the Year, will lead the Owls offense after turning in a 56-point performance on 32 goals and 24 assists.

Eastern Connecticut appeared in the top-three in each of the eight coaches' ballots, earning three first and second place votes to outscore Keene State with 57 total points. The Owls also appeared in the top-three in each of the ballots, securing the second ranking by penning two first-place tallies, three second and third-place votes in their ledger for 55 points. Western Connecticut State University matched the Warriors with three first place votes, but slipped into the third position with at least one nomination in each of the top-five positions to complete the poll with 53 points.

 In 2008, Eastern Connecticut posted the program's sixth undefeated Little East campaign to raise their overall record of 10-7. The Warriors finished atop the final regular season standing to secure the top seed and right to host the conference tournament on the strength of their 6-0 mark. Head Coach Justin Axel will welcome back 21 returners from last season's squad, including eight starters. The Warriors are expected to boast a fierce offensive attack that features three 2008 Little East All-Conference members, including first-team selection Matthew Savage (Southington, Conn.).

Head Coach Jason Ouellet guided the Colonials to the program's most successful season since joining the Little East Conference last spring. Western Connecticut posted a program-high 12 victories, and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament after capturing the Little East Tournament Championship. Ouellet will be able to build off last year's momentum as he welcomes back 17 players, including seven starters. Adam Lanehart (Redding, Conn.) led the Colonials with 63 points (54-9), while Kyle Wood (Hyde Park, N.Y.) anchored the team with a 9.25 goals against average.

Completing the preseason poll in projected order of finish in the regular season standings is the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (37), Plymouth State University (32), Salem State College (21), University of Massachusetts Boston (20), and the University of Southern Maine (13).

The Little East Conference sponsors a seven-game schedule after the Vikings rejoin the conference circuit. The top-six teams in the final regular season standings will advance to the 2009 Little East Men's Lacrosse Championship Tournament to vie for the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament as the Little East Conference Champion. Western Connecticut captured the 2008 tournament title, defeating the Panthers in the final 18-7.     

2009 Little East Conference Men's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

Institution

First Place Votes

Total Points

1

Eastern Connecticut State University

3

57

2

Keene State College

2

55

3

Western Connecticut State University

3

53

4

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

 

37

5

Plymouth State University

 

32

6

Salem State College

 

21

7

University of Massachusetts Boston

 

20

8

University of Southern  Maine

 

13