CASTLETON, Vt. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team scored all of its goals in a span of 23 minutes in the first half on the way to a 4-1 Little East Conference victory over Castleton University Friday evening at Dave Wolk Stadium. The win breaks a three-game losing streak for Eastern, coming off a pair of one-goal losses in conference play that had dropped its LEC mark to .500.
The goal total equals the highest one for Eastern (5-9-0, 4-3-0 LEC), which was upset in overtime at home last year by Castleton (7-8-0, 3-3-0 LEC) but still went on to share the LEC regular-season title. Castleton captured half of its eight LEC regular-season matches last year in its first season in the conference.
Freshman Emily Belval (Southbury), sophomores Haley Montesanto (East Haven) and Olivia Rovalino (Simsbury) and senior Abby Fitzsimmons (West Hartford) all scored in a span of 23 minutes and first-year junior goalkeeper Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) stopped five shots for her first career win in her fourth career appearance and start. The Spartans totaled 13 of their 20 shots in the second half, but only put two of them on net.
Tyrrell joined a team without a goalkeeper ten days ago after senior starter Erin Collins (Millis, MA) broke her finger in a 1-0 LEC win at the University of Southern Maine and eventually underwent career-ending surgery. Tyrrell gave up only three total goals in two conference losses after making her debut Oct. 8 in a 3-0 non-conference home loss to regionally-ranked Connecticut College.
After Belval and Castleton junior Rylee Nichols (team-leading eighth goal) scored 1:12 apart early in the match, Montesanto contributed her first goal of the year to give the Warriors the lead for good in the 25th minute, Rovalino made it 3-1 less than seven minutes later with her second goal of the year while starting up front for the first time, and Fitzsimmons pushed Eastern's lead to 4-1 by the half with her third goal of the year in the 40th minute.
Belval's opening goal came on a free kick from just outside the box. Her strike hit the crossbar and fell behind the goal line. Senior midfielder Linnea Reich (Middletown) collected her first assist of the year on a leading through ball to Montesanto that made it 2-1, and a failed clear on an Eastern corner set up Rovalino on a feed from freshman Juliette Hogan (Preston).
The difference between Tyrrell's first career shutout and not came when Castleton junior Julia Carone found a seam and led Nichols with the pass before the shot from 20 yards stayed inside the left post.
Five Eastern field players played all 90 minutes as Eastern evened its record on its opponents' home field at 4-4.
With one LEC regular-season match remaining (Nov. 2 against visiting Plymouth State University), Eastern has unofficially nailed down one of the six LEC playoff berths. Currently in seventh place, UMass Dartmouth is 1-4-0 with three LEC contests remaining. An Eastern loss against Plymouth and three UMass Dartmouth wins leave the teams tied, but the Warriors hold the tie-breaker due to its victory this year over the Corsairs.
Eastern hosts Trinity College Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a non-conference match.