MANSFIELD, Conn. – Three years ago, taking Wesleyan University into overtime and beyond would have been a moral victory for the Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team. Wednesday, it was viewed only as a frustrating loss.
After outplaying a young (five starting freshmen) Wesleyan team for most of the contest – and outshooting them by a margin of 10-1 in overtime – Eastern (2-3) was outscored 3-1 in the shootout session, coming up empty on three straight attempts in dropping a 2-1 decision that kept it winless against the Cardinals in the nine-match series which dates back to 2004.
After Eastern's Gabriela Meza (Norwalk) matched Wesleyan's (1-2) Ali Friend with goals in the first round of the shootout, the Warriors were stoned by Wesleyan senior goalie Claire Edelman on their final three tries. Following opening goals by Friend and Meza, both teams missed wide before Caitlin Wood gave the visitors the lead for good, 2-1. Edelman then kicked away an attempt by Eastern's Alex Kallgren (Dudley, MA) and Eastern junior goalie Maddie LaRusso (Enfield) followed suit. After the Warriors missed again, senior Lauren Yue sealed the Wesleyan victory when she carried into the circle and beat LaRusso with a clean shot from the right side.
Wesleyan has posted 2-1 wins over Eastern the past two years in the resumption of the series which had stopped for four years after Wesleyan and routed the Warriors, 10-2, in 2010 in the last meeting between the clubs at the Mansfield Complex until Wednesday.
Coming off two opening losses to nationally-ranked opponents, the Cardinals took a 1-0 first-half lead Wednesday on a goal by Tess Iannarone in the 16th minute, but the Warriors tied the match 14 minutes into the second half and eventually forced overtime when Brianna Passero (Trumbull) scored her team-leading fourth goal on an assist from Kallgren with 15 minutes gone in the second half.
Beginning with the second half, Eastern outshot Wesleyan 19-5 the rest of the way, finishing with a 22-8 advantage in shots in the match and a 12-5 margin in penalty corners. In the 30-minute sudden-death overtime session, Eastern had ten shots, six missing he cage and four being brushed aside by Edelman.
In the second half, the Warriors totaled nine shots and six penalty corners. Eastern spent the majority of the first 6-on-6 15-minute sudden death session in Wesleyan's end, but Edelman kept the game scoreless with three saves. Given two successive penalty corners six minutes into overtime, Eastern couldn't finish. Stationed at the left post, Passero couldn't pull the trigger after taking a feed from senior Paige Schneider, and less than a minute later, Kallgren sent her attempt wide. With under a minute left in the first overtime, Eastern continued to press, but Stephanie Hogan's (Northford) bid from inside the circle was deflected and sailed over the cage.
Edelman made eight saves for her first win of the year while Samantha Scavo (Redding) and LaRusso each made two saves for Eastern. In her first appearance of the year, LaRusso played the second half and overtime in sustaining her third loss in five career decisions.
Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday at Framingham State University at 2 p.m.