Athletes are among the first to discover that life isn’t always fair.

Take Eugene Arsenault and the rest of the Clark University men’s lacrosse team. The Cougars won three of their final four games, including an 11-10 double-overtime win over Wheaton, to finish 6-8 and produce a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots in the Pilgrim Lacrosse League.

But when the tiebreakers were tabulated, Wheaton got in and “we were the odd man out,” said Arsenault, a senior attack from South Portland.

“It’s unfortunate, but we had a really good season,” he said.

It was a special season for Arsenault, a very popular student in the athletic department at Clark. He tore the medial and lateral meniscus in his left knee in the second week of preseason his junior year and couldn’t play.

He returned this year to score 18 goals with eight assists while setting an example for his younger teammates.

“To have him back at full strength, to have him play at a high level all spring, was just great to see,” said Coach Jeff Cohen. “He is a real force on the interior. He uses his size to shield defenders but he has a knack of knowing when to cut and when to move off ball. He knows instinctively when to start moving.”

Arsenault is 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, numbers you normally would find on a football tackle, not necessarily a lacrosse attackman.

He played football at South Portland, “but you probably don’t remember,” he said. “We were probably the worst team in the state at the time. We went 0-8 two straight seasons.”

But it was lacrosse that hooked him. He has uncommon agility for a player his size. And he has an aptitude for lacrosse. He used his size to his advantage, of course, but he also surprised defenders by moving quickly to a vacated area.

“I actually played defense when I first started playing lacrosse,” said Arsenault. “I didn’t like it. I wanted to score goals, to be the face. So I used my size advantage and tried to overpower kids. Everything was a lot more fun.”

Cohen said Arsenault became much more committed to being fit in college, especially after his injury. He focused on workouts and diet and became a model player.

“He kept himself healthy,” said Cohen. “There’s so much movement involved in this sport and he was able to keep playing lacrosse with a football body because he was committed to dieting and conditioning.”

“The injury motivated me a lot,” said Arsenault. “I worked hard to lose weight.

“And this ended up being my favorite year playing in college. I had a lot of good friends and I felt really good playing for the team and my coach.”

Sitting out a year had another advantage. Arsenault went to every practice and game and got a good look at the nature of the sport.

“It definitely made me understand how the offense is supposed to be run,” he said. “And I learned by watching the defense. It helped me as a complete lacrosse player.”

Arsenault is known for more than his lacrosse ability at Clark. He works in the athletic department, is known as the voice of Clark basketball and helps set up the sites for athletic contests.

Arsenault wants to play one more year. Because he missed his junior year with the injury, he has one more year of eligibility.

He’ll graduate with a degree in business management and plans to apply to Clark’s graduate school for communications. If he gets in and can make his class schedule work, he plans on playing again.

“It’d be nice,” said Arsenault. “I’d love another year.”

So would Portland’s Sam McAdam, Arsenault’s longtime friend, who missed his senior season after suffering a lacerated kidney in the second game of the season.

“It’d be great to have them both back,” said Cohen. “But they’ve got to make the commitment to school first.”

BASEBALL

University of Maine at Farmington senior first baseman Josh Garneau of South Portland was named to the North Eastern Athletic Conference East Division first team. Garneau led the division with a .376 batting average and made just three errors in 251 chances. He drove in a team-high 15 runs with four doubles and a home run.

Wheaton junior pitcher David Longley of Brunswick was named to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference all-academic first team. Longley went 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in 10 relief appearances, allowing just seven hits and two walks in 121/3 innings. He struck out five.

GOLF

Pace University senior Kent St. Charles of Wells shot a three-round score of 234 in the NCAA East Regional at Hershey (Pa.) Links Golf Club. St. Charles shot a 74 in the opening round, followed by a 76 and an 85. He tied for 64th place.

St. Charles had an average score of 77.5 in 10 tournaments this year. He tied for first in the Northeast-10 Conference championship before losing on the first playoff hole.

MEN’S LACROSSE

Senior long-stick midfielder Bryan Ertz of Yarmouth recently completed his career at Lafayette, a Division I school in Easton, Pa. He appeared in 10 games this season and was second on the team with seven caused turnovers. He also collected six ground balls. He will graduate later this month with a degree in chemical engineering.

SOFTBALL

Maine-Farmington senior catcher/designated hitter McKell Barnes of Durham (Brunswick) finished her career among the school’s career offensive leaders. She has career records in hits (145), doubles (44), home runs (24), RBI (116) and walks (59). She batted .325 this season with eight doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI to earn North Atlantic Conference second-team honors.

TENNIS

Wheaton junior Neall Oliver of Portland (Deering) was named NEWMAC men’s tennis player of the year. He was 5-0 in conference play at No. 1 singles and went 10-2 in No. 1 doubles.

WOMEN’S LACROSSE

Assumption College freshman midfielder Nancy McAdam was named to the Northeast-10 Conference all-rookie team. She had four goals and four assists in 14 games and also collected 21 ground balls.

Senior defender Kaley Waterman of Berwick (Noble) finished her career at Southern New Hampshire University among the career leaders in turnovers and ground balls. She finished with 69 caused turnovers (third all time) and 154 ground balls (fourth). Southern New Hampshie was 43-27 in her career, including 9-8 this year. As a senior, Waterman collected 46 ground balls and caused 13 turnovers along with eight draw controls. She had two career goals.

Senior attack Lauren Sawyer of Westbrook helped Keene State advance to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Owls will play at SUNY-Cortland today. Sawyer had one goal and four assists in a 17-1 win over the University of Southern Maine in the Little East Conference semifinals, then had two assists in a 15-8 win over Eastern Connecticut State in the title game.

Maine-Farmington junior midfielder Emma Morrison of Saco (Thornton Academy) and freshman midfielder Molly Carbin of Scarborough were named to the North Atlantic Conference East Division first team. Morrison had 17 goals and two assists, 50 draw controls, collected 41 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers. Carbin had eight goals, four assists, 16 draw controls, 59 ground balls and nine caused turnovers.

Norwich University freshman midfielder Grace Fitzpatrick of Falmouth (Cheverus) was named Greater Northeast Athletic Conference rookie of the year. She led the Cadets in goals (40), ground balls (53) and caused turnovers (33) and was second in points (46) and draw controls (32). Norwich will play at Colby today in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

Hamilton College sophomore midfielder Ashley Allen of South Portland (Waynflete) earned honorable-mention honors from the Liberty League. Allen had 15 goals and five assists for the Continentals, who are 17-1 and will host an NCAA Division III tournament game against SUNY-Brockport today. Allen also had 16 ground balls and 13 draw controls for third-ranked Hamilton.

Junior attack Molly Sbrega of Portland (Deering) has played a big role in leading Denison University of Granville, Ohio, to the NCAA Division III tournament. Sbrega has 28 goals and eight assists while collecting 24 ground balls for the Big Red, who will play today at Messiah College.

AWARDS

Matt Violette, a senior swimmer at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., received two honors at the school’s athletic awards night. He was presented the Eldridge Eliason Award, given to a student who combines academic standing with athletic prowess. He was also presented the most valuable swimmer award.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]