WELLESLEY, Mass. – Having stopped a four-game losing streak at the hands of Wellesley College last April, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's lacrosse team looked impressive in the opening seven minutes Thursday afternoon, but its bid to make it two wins in a row against the Blue dissolved in short order when the hosts netted 11 unanswered goals in a 16-7 victory.
Juniors Madison Renaud (Somers) and Alyssa Powers (Ellington) and senior Michelina Pinto (Groton) combined on five goals on Eastern's (0-4/all matches on the road) first six shots, but the Warriors' quick 5-1 lead dissolved as quickly as it began, mostly due to a flood of turnovers which totaled 36 in all.
In its season-opener, Wellesley kept Eastern off the board for a remarkable 31 minutes. After Renard scored twice in less than a minute in the opening minutes to cap Eastern's 5-1 burst, the Blue reeled off the final seven goals of the first half, the connected for the first four in the opening eight minutes of the second half to move out to a 12-5 lead. Pinto's un assists goal nine minutes into the second half finally stemmed the tide in a game whose outcome had already been determined.
Eastern junior Tristan Kijak (Windsor) put seven of her eight shots on goal, but Wellesley senior goalie Chloe Tucker turned away six of them. In Eastern's 16-5 home win over Wellesley last year, the Warriors unloaded 23 shots on Tucker, who made seven saves in her team's tenth straight loss of the year.
Kijak and sophomore Alexa Jacobson (Marlborough) each had five ground balls and junior Stephanie Sullivan (Somers) four, with Kijak also causing three turnovers and winning three draws. Pinto won a team-high five draws to go along with her hat trick.
Senior goalie Jessica Purick (Riverhead, NY) stopped eight shots in the losing effort.
Senior Dacia Persky contributed to 11 of her team's goals by scoring nine and assisting on two on the way to reaching the 100-goal plateau in her career. She also caused four turnovers and picked up two ground balls. Six of her goals sparked the 11-0 Wellesley scoring run. Her goal with seven minutes left in the first half lifted the Blue into the lead for good, 6-5. Her fifth goal closed out the first half and her sixth on a free-position shot opened the second that made it 9-5 two minutes into the session.
Eastern hopes that a change of climate and scenery signals a change in its fortunes when it faces Bridgewater State University (Tuesday) and Vassar College (Thursday) at Dever Park in Englewood, FL next week. The Warriors have dropped their last four against Bridgewater and has split the two-game series with the Vassar, last facing the Brewers in 2010.
Bridgewater lost its opener, 15-5, March 1 at Mount Holyoke and was scheduled to host the University of New England Saturday before facing Eastern. Vassar was beaten in its first two matches of the season – including 13-5 to No. 12 nationally-ranked Wesleyan on the road Wednesday. The Brewers face Westfield State University Tuesday in Florida before facing Eastern.