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Field Hockey: Warriors Play Defending Champions on Even Terms Before Stumbling in Second Half of 4-1 Little East Loss

Field Hockey: Warriors Play Defending Champions on Even Terms Before Stumbling in Second Half of 4-1 Little East Loss

MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey seemingly had defending Little East Conference regular-season champion Castleton University right where the Warriors wanted it.

It turned out to be the other way around.

Eastern (2-8, 2-4 LEC) played Castleton (6-4, 4-1 LEC) to a scoreless stalemate through the first half and into the midway point of the third quarter before the Spartans got consecutive goals from Loretta Blakeney four minutes apart and went on to a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Rick McCarthy Field.

With Castleton featuring only 12 available field players and Eastern substituting freely, conventional thinking was that the Spartans might be wearing down as the game progressed into the second half. Instead, Castleton was just getting warmed up as the visitors struck twice in the third quarter and twice more in the fourth to win their third straight and send the Warriors to their third straight loss. Playing its eight road game, Castleton evened its record away from home at 4-4.

Limited to four shots in the first half, Castleton found another gear in the second half, unloading seven shots in both the third and fourth quarters to pull away. Castleton outshot Eastern, 18-2 and piled up 12 penalty corner (nine in the second half) against only two for Eastern.

Ranked second in the Little East in goals, Castleton forward Kaitlin Bardellini put three of her five shots on cage before finally solving Eastern junior Keira Integlia (Branford) with a minute left in the match – her 11th of the season -- to close out the scoring. That goal allowed Castleton to regain its three-goal lead after Eastern senior forward Khiara Valentine (Morristown, NJ) had scored an unassisted goal following her own penalty corner a minute earlier.

Integlia was credited with 11 saves.

Eastern hosts Regis College Wednesday at 4 p.m. in a non-conference match.