BABSON PARK, Mass.— The bad news for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team following Saturday's 1-0 non-conference loss to Babson College was that it plunged the Warriors into its first 0-3 start in 14 seasons.
The good news is that after Eastern absorbed four straight losses (three by shutout) to open the 2005 season, the Warriors rebounded to lose just one match the rest of the regular season (10-1-2), captured the Little East Conference regular-season title in unbeaten fashion, then claimed the LEC tournament title which vaulted them into its second NCAA tournament in three years.
Coming off last year's 3-0 home win over Babson (1-1-0), Eastern equaled the Beavers' total of eight shots Saturday, but the hosts won the corner-kick battle decisively (7-1) and got the only goal they needed 15 minutes into the second half from senior forward Olivia West in only the third meeting ever between the programs at Hartwell-Rogers Field.
Following a scoreless first half, West intercepted an errant back pass and dodged senior goalkeeper Erin Collins (Millis, MA) just inside the top of the box before slotting a shot into the open net.
Eastern had two chances to equalize in the 77th minute but came up empty. Sophomore midfielder Haley Montesanto (East Haven) had her bid from the left side of the box pushed away by freshman keeper Morgan Fedosiewich, and senior midfielder Stephanie Sanchez (Manchester) sent the rebound attempt just over the crossbar.
Babson nearly opened the scoring in the 13th minute when junior forward Addie Lalor ran onto a through ball from sophomore forward Katherine Ryan, but Collins sprinted off her line and made a sliding tackle at the top of the box to keep the game scoreless. Collins also beat West to a cross by Lalor in the center of the box six minutes into the second half.
Last year's 3-0 win over Babson in early September at Nevers Field was Eastern's third straight shutout victory (the team's first eight matched were decided by shutout, Eastern winning five and losing three by 1-0 scores). Despite being outshot, 20-9, in that game, the Warriors scored three goals in a span of 11 minutes in the second half of that contest. Collins made six saves in playing the final 45 minutes in that contest, gaining the win. Eastern lost six of 11 starters from that games, with four of Saturday's starters being freshman and a fifth being a junior who did not letter in 2018.
Eastern had been idle since last weekend, when it was overwhelmed in a pair of non-conference loss to nationally-ranked teams at Swarthmore, PA.
Eastern visits Western New England University in a non-conference match Thursday at 4:30 p.m.