May 9, 2009


Courtesy of Eastern Connecticut State Athletics

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - John Killee, Russ Follansbee and Jeff Strittmatter scored goals in the final five minutes as the Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team was finally able to shake Eastern Connecticut State University and post an 8-4 win in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament Saturday afternoon at Jackson Field on the Wesleyan campus.


Senior midfielder DJ Simmons (Mystic), whose overtime goal Wednesday sent Eastern (15-4) into the second round, scored the only goal of the third quarter to tie the game at 4-4 with eight minutes left it the frame. Ranked 17th nationally, Wesleyan (15-3) finally broke a 20-minute drought against Eastern senior goalie Kyle Savage (Southington) 65 seconds into the fourth quarter on a goal by NESCAC Rookie-of-the-Year John Froats that bounced into the net. The Warriors unloaded four shots over the next three minutes - with junior midfielder Maxim Fantl (West Hartford) hitting the post once and Wesleyan senior goalie Mike Borrero saving one - before the hosts scored three times in a span of 2:31 to pull away.


With its first win over Eastern in the last five meetings, Wesleyan advances to the national quarterfinals on Wednesday, when it hosts New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Middlebury College. Seeded fourth in the NESCAC tournament, Wesleyan knocked the Panthers out in the semifinals on the way to the tournament title.


In a game dominated by defense, neither team was able to score more than two consecutive goals until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.  With Eastern trailing 4-2, senior attack Matthew Savage (Southington) cut the deficit in half with his 53rd goal of the year on a feed from sophomore Brendan Hoppey (Shoreham, NY) with two minutes left in the third quarter. Neither team was able to break through in the third quarter until Simmons cashed in a Wesleyan turnover for his 49th goal of the year with 8:15 left in the third quarter.


Follansbee, Wesleyan's top goal-scorer with 44 goals, was held to one goal in three different quarters by Eastern senior defenseman Steve Lane (Groton), despite uncorking ten of his team's 44 shots. Sophomore faceoff specialist Eric Vasil (Southington) won nine of 14 faceoffs and picked up ten ground balls. Vasil is ranked first nationally in ground balls and third in faceoff winning percentage.  He concluded the season with program season records for ground balls (221), faceoff percentage (.714), wins (264) and attempts (370).


Kyle Savage made 16 saves in one of the top games of his career. After allowing three goals in the first quarter, he surrendered only one goal through the middle periods.before Froats was credited with the go-ahead goal when the loose ball caromed into the net early in the fourth quarter.


Matthew Savage finished the season with a program-record 53 goals. He had at least one goal in his final 13 matches, and Simmons concluded by recording at least one goal in his last 16 contest.


Eastern had a nine-game winning streak snapped with the loss, with three of its losses this year coming against teams which qualified for NCAA play.


Wesleyan U. 8, Eastern Conn. 4


Eastern Conn. (15-4)      2   1   1   0 -- 4
Wesleyan U. (15-3)        3   1   0   4 -- 8


Goals: E-Matthew Savage, DJ Simmons, Vinny Tornatore, Brian Fechtmann.; W-
Russ Follansbee 3, Jon Killeen 2, Jason Ben-Eliyahu, John Froats, Jeff Strittmatter.
Assists: E-Brendan Hoppey, M. Savage; W- Ben-Eliyahu, Lonny Blumenthal,
Dan Latzman.
Shots: E-26, W-44; Saves: E- Kyle Savage 16, W-Mike Borrero 11.