Claire Boughton Caitlin Howard
Sports Editor Equinox Staff
After six Little East Conference (LEC) championship titles in a row, the streak has been snapped.
The Keene State College men’s lacrosse team fell out of the LEC championship running on May 6 after losing a close semifinal game against Western Connecticut State University at home on Dr. Ron Butcher Field.
The Owls had returned to play two days prior to the semifinal game, only to have a portion of the team be placed back into quarantine the day before the game. With that being said, the Keene State men’s lacrosse team still put up a fight against the Warriors.
After the first half of the semifinal game, things were looking bleak for the Owls with the score sitting at 2-8, Keene losing. However, with the rallying support of a home (and masked) crowd, the Owls were able to bring the game back, finishing off with a final score of 10-11.
While the game may not have had the outcome the team wanted, first-year goalkeeper Charlie Giuliotti said that the game showed the heart of the team.
“We almost beat a tough Western Connecticut team with only half of our team there and only two days of practice before then,” said Giuliotti. “Our teammates had to work 10 times more than they usually did because of all the low numbers and I give my teammates and coaches all my respect. There isn’t any other team in the world that I would want to play for.”
The semifinal game would mark Giuliotti’s first start in his collegiate career and he ended up playing for the entirety of the game.
“It was definitely a little nerve racking because it was my first start in two years because my high school didn’t have a senior lacrosse season but I had a lot of teammates and coaches that really boosted my confidence throughout the week so by game day I felt more excited than nervous,” said Giuliotti.
Senior captain and midfielder Paxton Blanchard was unable to play in the semifinal game, however, he said he and his other teammates made sure the team knew they were there for a reason.
“All of us that could not play had sent text messages to the rest of the team leading up to the game reminding them that they are on this team for a reason and we all believe in them,” said Blanchard. “We were also reminding them to keep their heads cool if the game does not go the way we want it to because 60 minutes is a very long time. A number of us had sent personal messages to Chucky [Giuliotti] who is our freshman goalie. We were all reassuring him that he has what it takes to be a top goalie in this conference and that no matter what happens not to beat himself up. I have to say Chucky stood on his head and played absolutely lights out in that game.”
Men’s lacrosse head coach Mark Theriault explained that the season was bittersweet all the way up until the final game.
“I definitely have mixed feelings, you know,” said Theriault. “One, we’re a five and oh in conference play, we really dominated all those games that we played up until the playoffs and the whole COVID episode. So with that, I was definitely really pleased that we were able to have something that resembled lacrosse… but at the same time, you know, I was afforded the opportunity to coach my team and to be able to have, although limited, still have great opportunities to be with the guys. And yeah, I tell them every day, the best part of the day for me is usually the two hours or so at practice that we’re together, because we work hard, but we get to share something that’s a really special bonding experience that we all do together. I know, it wasn’t traditional this year, but at the same time, it was one of those experiences that it was something. And you sort of have to be thankful that we got six games this year versus zero.”
Blanchard said that he believed the loss in the semifinals would only add to the team’s drive for next year’s competition.
“Even though all of us hate losing more than anything I know that this has sparked a new drive and determination in every single one of us on this team,” said Blanchard “Everyone is already preparing for next year and we are going to start a new win streak and dynasty and this one is going to be even stronger than the one before. We have a lot of unbelievable talent on this team and both Coach Theriault and Coach Carmean have been working extremely hard building the recruiting class that is coming in next year. I have no doubt in my mind that when this team gets back out on the field for the 2022 season they will remind everyone of who Keene State Lacrosse is and that championship trophy will be back in Coach’s office.”
Blanchard continued, giving his teammates some final parting advice as a graduating senior.
“My advice would be don’t take anything for granted,” said Blanchard. “My four years here went by so fast and it feels like yesterday that I was moving in as a freshman. It is really special having the opportunity to play at the collegiate level and there is a little something extra that comes with this team. We are such a close family and I have created friendships and memories that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I would invite any of the guys I have played with over the past four years to my wedding in the future, that is how close all of us are.”
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