BOSTON -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team squandered a three-goal halftime lead by giving up three goals in a span of 16 minutes in the second half, but senior Aly Clarke (Mystic's) second goal of the match with just under ten minutes lifted the Warriors to a 4-3 win over UMass Boston Tuesday evening at Cotter Field and into a share of first place in the Little East Conference.
Now 23-3-2 all-time against UMass (7-5-1, 2-2-1 LEC), Eastern (8-4-0, 4-1-0 LEC) and Western Connecticut share first place in the conference after sharing the regular-season title a year ago. The win was Eastern's first on its opponent's home field in four matches this year and was its second victory away from home in six starts.
UMass lifted freshman keeper Abby McCulloch to start the second half and freshman Caroline Richards shut out the Warriors while her team was scoring three times before Clarke recorded her team-leading seventh goal of the season on a free kick which floated over the keeper.
The Beacons entered play with a 5-1-1 record in their last seven outings but fell to the Warriors for the fifth straight time. Eastern defeated UMB twice last year at home, 5-1 in the regular season and 3-0 in the LEC playoff semifinals.
Tuesday, Eastern had raced to a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes on goals from Clarke and classmates Anna Manser (Manchester) and Nikki Basilicato (Guilford), with Clarke and Manser each scoring within the first four minutes. Clarke, last year's team scoring leader, scored twice for the second time in the last five matches. Manser assisted on Clarke's first goal and Basilicato set up Manser's goal.
In the second half, the teams combined for four goals on 21 shots, three yellow cards and seven corner kicks, with Richards and Eastern senior keeper Kayla Lacrecque (Westhampton, MA) each making four saves.
Eastern held a slim 18-14 edge in shots and Labrecque finished with seven saves. Each team had four corner kicks.
Clarke leads Eastern with five goals and an assist in five conference matches, with Basilicato and Manser adding three goals and an assist each against LEC opponents.
Eastern visits Castleton University Saturday at 1 p.m. in a conference match.