MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team rode an early second-quarter goal to a 1-0 Little East Conference victory over Bridgewater State University Tuesday afternoon at Rick McCarthy Field.
All-conference senior forward Morgan Sanson (Thomaston) – last year's team leader in goals and points who has split time at midfield this year– redirected a blast from junior forward Sydney Hogan (Northford) for her first goal of the year less than three minutes into the second quarter for Eastern's (4-9, 3-5 LEC) second win in three games. Bridgewater (2-10, 2-6 LEC) had won two of its last four after dropping its first seven.
Eastern, Bridgewater and UMass Dartmouth all entered the game sharing the eighth and final playoff position. A UMass Dartmouth home loss to Westfield State University later Tuesday would leave the Warriors in sole possession of eight place.
The Warriors threatened immediately in the second quarter, with Bridgwater senior goalie Jillian Delaney keeping the match scoreless by kicking out two Eastern bids from in close. Less than a minute later, however, Eastern senior forward Lindsey McKeon (Chester) sent in a penalty corner. Hogan settled the hit-in just inside the top of the circle, stepped inside the arc, and blasted a drive that Sanson was able to re-direct past the goalie for what proved to be the only goal of the match.
With Bridgewater utilizing just one substitute in the match, Eastern's depth (eight substitutes) wore down the Bears in the second half, when Eastern held a 15-3 advantage in shots (+22-4 in the game) and 9-1 margin (12-3 in the game) in penalty corners over the final 30 minutes.
With Eastern holding to its 1-0 lead, junior goalie Keira Integlia (Branford) made an impressive diving save on a shot from Bridgewater junior forward Olivia Ahlman three minutes into the fourth quarter to protect the lead. Integlia, who averages 11 saves per match, stretched full out to her right and got a stick on Ahlman's shot headed inside the left post, pushing the ball away.
Bridgewater's first penalty corner of the second half did not come until 1:42 remained in the third quarter, and Integlia came through with her only save of the quarter on a shot by sophomore forward Victoria Camara. The Warriors had dominated in time of possession throughout the third quarter until the Bears had two late possession in the Warriors' end that did not produce the tying marker.
The Warriors created several opportunities to add to their lead after Integlia's terrific stop in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but were unable to produce a pad goal. Inside the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, sophomore midfielder Brianna Nolan (Watertown) took a pass from senior forward Khiara Valentine (Morristown, NJ) but sent it wide right, and two minutes later was set up on passes from sophomore midfielder Sydney Collentine (New Fairfield) and Hogan, but again sent the ball wide of the cage while being knocked to the ground with a blow to the face (and leaving the game). On the ensuing penalty corner sent in by Valentine, Hogan (nine shots off the bench, five reaching goal) sent a sweep shot just wide of the left post.
At right: Sydney Hogan
The Warriors were able to keep possession in Bridgewater's defensive end in the final minutes (earning their 12th penalty corner with 57.2 seconds left), with Valentine gaining possession from Camara with ten seconds left as the Warriors ran out the clock. Sophomore midfielder Bryce Makula (Guilford) was a key factor in Eastern's ability to control the midfield throughout the day.
Delaney kicked out 14 shots, 13 after the first quarter, while Integlia needed only four to record her second shutout of the year, both coming in conference play.
Eastern visits LEC leader Worcester State University Saturday at 11 a.m. The Lancers took the conference's only perfect record (7-0) into a Tuesday night home game against 2018 LEC regular-season champion Castleton University. Eastern has lost 11 straight and is 1-12 all-time against Worcester on the Lancers' field. Worcester lost 2-1 in overtime against top-seeded Castleton in last year's LEC playoff semifinals.