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Women's Soccer: Western Converts Two Free Kicks, Remains Unbeaten in Little East with 2-1 Victory over Warriors

Women's Soccer: Western Converts Two Free Kicks, Remains Unbeaten in Little East  with 2-1 Victory over Warriors

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Western Connecticut State University scored twice on free kicks to remain unbeaten in the Little East Conference with a 2-1 women's soccer victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday afternoon at Rick McCarthy Field.

Western (11-4-1, 5-0-0 LEC), which has shared the regular-season title with Eastern (4-9-0, 3-3-0 LEC) the last two years and is the four-time defending LEC playoff champion, broke a tie on sophomore forward Kaleigh Panek's conference-leading 14th goal of the season to extend Western's unbeaten streak on Eastern's home field to six (4-0-2).

Panek's game-winner came on the rebound of a free kick by freshman midfielder Myah Croze ten minutes into the second half. Croze drove her hard 25 yard free kick directory at Eastern junior keeper Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington), who caught it in her mid-section but couldn't control the ball from dropping to the ground, where Panek cleaned it up with a shot into an open net.

A winner of nine straight since starting the season  2-4-1, Western took a 1-0 lead on a re-start when sophomore midfielder Brooke Gallagher sent a perfectly-timed header off a free kick from senior midfielder Bailey McCollum  from the middle of the box under the crossbar in the 17th minute.

At left: Senior midfielder Linnea Reich helped set up Warriors' goal. (Photo by Sara Pisanelli '20)

Eastern evened the score with five minutes left in the first half when sophomore midfielders Sierra DeCarli (Tolland) and Gaia Mistriel (Danbury) -- both coming off the bench --  teammed for the tying goal. DeCarli beat Western sophomore keeper Karly Martin  with a volley from in close that carried over the keeper's head for her first career goal. It was Mistriel's first career point. The play originated with a free kick in front of the Eastern bench. From behind midfield, senior midfielder Linnea Reich (Middletown) sent a long ball to sophomore back Destiny Perez (Vernon) on the right wing. Perez and Western senior defender Courtney Ravo got tangled up and the loose ball rolled to Eastern sophomore midfielder Haley Montesanto (East Haven), who also came off the bench in the game. Montesanto one-touched a pass immediately to Mistriel on the corner of the 18-yard box. Mistriel took two quick touches and found DeCarli, whose one-touch chip shot carried just over the hands of Martin and settled under the crossbar.

Martin made four saves and Tyrrell eight. The Colonials outshot Eastern, 18-8.

Eastern visits Castleton University Friday at 7 p.m. for a conference match.