Western men's lacrosse picked to finish fourth in LEC in 2012

official release from Jack Holleran - LEC Director of Communications

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA (Feb. 16) - The Keene State College Owls have been predicted to capture the 2012 Little East Conference men’s lacrosse regular-season championship, as voted by the league’s eight coaches. The Owls earned seven of the eight first place votes and 63 total points to sit atop the 12th annual preseason survey.  

Eastern Connecticut State University received the final first place vote to secure the No. 2 position with 52 total points. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (47) and Western Connecticut State University (41) completed the top-half of the eight-team field.

Under the direction of Mark Theriault, Keene State College captured the program’s second consecutive conference regular-season title and fourth overall in 2011. The Owls established a new program standard for single-season winning percentage (.826) with a 14-3 overall record. Theriault and his squad completed the Little East circuit with an unblemished 7-0 mark to raise their current conference winning streak to 18 games. Keene State easily dispatched the Colonials in the semifinal round of the Little East tournament before defeating the rival Warriors in the final to earn the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament. The Owls, making their second consecutive appearance and fourth overall, were edged at No. 10 Amherst College. 

In 2012, Keene State will welcome back three of its top four scorers from a year ago. Each of the top-returning scoring threats registered at least 50 points to help the Owls boast one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the nation. In 2011, Keene State ranked among the Division III leaders in man-up offense (4th, 46.3%), goals per game (11th, 14.41), and scoring margin (12th, +6.0). Senior attack Matt Schairer (Wrentham, Mass.) is expected to pace the Owls offensive attack after recording 68 total points, on 44 goals and 24 assists, as a junior. Keene State will face a grueling schedule that features two teams ranked in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III Preseason Poll in Bowdoin College (#18) and Rensselaer (#19). The Owls will begin their 2012 slate at 5 p.m. on Feb. 29, when Keene State travels to Bates College.

Justin Axel guided Eastern Connecticut to the program’s fourth consecutive season with at least 10 victories in 2011, sporting a 12-6 mark. The Warriors finished the seven-game Little East schedule with a 5-2 record to tie the Corsairs for second place. Eastern Connecticut advanced to the program’s 10th appearance in the Little East Championship contest after defeating Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth.

Axel will return 24 student-athletes, including four starters, back into the fold from the 2011 squad. The Warriors will feature four 2011 All-Little East honorees on its current roster, including first-team recipients in senior midfielder Salieu Bolivar (Norwalk, Conn.) and classmate defender Tommy Flynn (Mineola, N.Y.). Bolivar led the team in game-winning goals (3), while ranking second in goals (33) and third in points (43). Flynn will control the other end of the field as Eastern Connecticut’s top defensemen. The native of Mineola, N.Y. collected 42 ground balls as a junior, including a season-best six against Wesleyan on April 12. The Warriors will open their 2012 schedule at 2 p.m. on Feb. 25, when Eastern Connecticut visits Gordon College.      

The Little East sponsors a seven-game conference schedule with the top six squads in the final standings advancing to the 2012 Little East Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The top-two seeds receive a first-round bye and earn the right to host a semifinal round contest on Thursday, May 3. Two days later, the two semifinal winners advance to the championship round at the highest remaining seed. The Little East champion earns the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Rounding out the preseason poll in projected order of finish in the regular season standings are Plymouth State University (27), University of Southern Maine (24), Salem State University (21), and the University of Massachusetts Boston (12).

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III.  Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes.  Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.  


2012 Little East Men's Lacrosse Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

Nomination

First Place

Total

1

Keene State College

7

63

2

Eastern Connecticut State University

1

52

3

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

47

4

Western Connecticut State University

41

5

Plymouth State University

27

6

University of Southern Maine

24

7

Salem State University

21

8

University of Massachusetts Boston

12