DARTMOUTH, Mass. – A field hockey match between teams rated in the upper half of the Little East Conference in scoring defense and in the bottom third in scoring offensive figured to have a low-scoring outcome.
It did not disappoint, but did produce a disappointing 1-0 loss for Eastern Connecticut State University against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Tuesday evening at Cressy Field.
Playing its sixth road match in the first month of the season, Eastern (2-7, 2-3 LEC) lost for the first time in three outings against a team ranked lower in the 2019 LEC pre-season poll. Eastern was ranked tenth, 24 points and one place higher than UMass Dartmouth (3-5, 1-3 LEC).
Sophomore Kylie Dias's goal 1:49 into the third quarter held up as the game-winner and lifted the Corsairs to their first LEC win after three losses and improved their overall record to 3-5.
After losing ten straight matches against UMass, Eastern had pounded the Corsairs the last three times out by a combined score of 11-2. In its last appearance at Cressy Field in 2017, Eastern had snapped a six-game losing streak against UMass Dartmouth on the Corsair's home and appeared to be in position to make it two in a row at Dartmouth. However, after a scoreless first half of action, Dias provided the only tally that the host Corsairs (3-5, 1-3 LEC) would need by converting a breakaway from 10 yards out for her second marker of the season, and junior Katelyn Banalewicz made that stand up with a seven-save effort in goal to record her first career shutout.
The outcome reflected the balance in the game, with the hosts managing a slim 13-12 edge in shots and 4-3 margin in penalty corners. Eastern goalie Keira Integlia (Branford) matched Banalewicz with seven saves.
After a defensive first half, the teams combined for 20 shots (ten each) and collected six of their seven penalty corners in the second half. Sophomores Sydney Collentine (New Fairfield) and Brianna Nolan (Watertown) combined to put all five of their shots on goal, but Banalewicz was up to the task of kicking each one out. Eastern's starting defense of senior Amy Smith (Trumbull), sophomore Katelyn Miller (Wallingford) and freshmen Grace Mangiameli (Suffield) and Sinead Marie (West Hartford) made sure that Integlia made her least number of saves this year in a loss and second-least in any game this year.
UMass Dartmouth's winless record in LEC play through its first three matches was somewhat deceiving as the setbacks came against last year's conference playoff finalists (Keene State College and Castleton University) and against 2018 playoff semifinalist Worcester State University, albeit the losses coming by a combined score of 21-0.
Eastern hosts 2018 LEC regular-season champion Castleton Saturday at noon at Rick McCarthy Field.