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Eastern and Western still without an LEC loss after double OT deadlock


LEClogo-1WEB.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Little East Conference women's soccer unbeatens Eastern Connecticut State University and Western Connecticut State University traded goals 13 minutes apart in the second half and settled for a 1-1 double-overtime draw Monday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.

With the tie, the regionally-ranked opponents remain the only unbeaten teams in the conference. No. 7 ranked Western (7-3-1, 3-0-1) had a three-game overall winning streak and three-game winning streak against No. 9 Eastern (7-2-1, 3-0-1) stopped with the tie. Eastern, 2-0-1 in its last three, is unbeaten in its last 18 home matches (14-0-4) since losing to Western, 4-0, two years ago at Nevers Field.

Following a  scoreless first half  dominated by Western, first-team All-America forward Catherine Nathans gave the Colonials a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute with her sixth goal of the season before Eastern junior midfielder Sarah Swann (Oxford) pulled the Warriors even 13 minutes later with her third goal of 2008.

Nathans, who has 45 goals in her three-year Western career, settled a loose ball in the middle of the field and sent a quick 25-yard blast at goal, above the late leap of Eastern junior keeper Kim Church (Farmington). The ball caromed straight down off the crossbar and over the goal line.

In the 67th minute, all-region senior midfielder Nicole Gaudette (Colchester) sprung Swann with a long ball ahead of the field. Western senior keeper Shannon Cawley hustled off her line in an attempt to win the ball, but Swann outraced her and chipped it over the hard-charging goalie from just inside the box. The ball rolled into the empty goal.

Three of Cawley's four saves in the game came against Swann, two coming in succession from in close in the first overtime that prevented the Warriors from winning. Swann was also robbed by Cawley in a 1 v. 1 situation in the overtime. With just over four minutes

left in overtime, Swann was then taken down in the box after beating the Colonials' last defender on an apparent breakaway, but no penalty kick was awarded.

After giving up 11 shots in the first half to the conference's No.1-ranked offense, Eastern's top-ranked defense stiffened after the break, allowing only five shots over the final 65 minutes. Each of the team's four starting defense of junior Christine Lemieux (South Windsor) and sophomores Stephanie Norell (Stratford), Lauren Hickey (Southwick, MA) and Lauren Freer (Southington) played all 110 minutes.

Western had a handful of chances to score additional goals. Late in the first half, Victoria Copozziello carried alone up the middle before unloading a point-blank shot that was hit right at Church. With 18 minutes left in regulation, top Western scorer Lauren Matthews found herself unmarked on the right wing, but sent her hard shot just wide of the right post.  Six minutes later, Nathans set up junior midfielder Angela Wozniak with a feed at the top of the box, but Church came out to haul in the shot.

Eastern visits No. 13 nationally-ranked Amherst College Thursday at 8 p.m.

Eastern Conn. 1, Western Conn. 1, 2 ot

Western Conn. (7-3-1, 3-0-1 little east)     0    1    (0)    (0) -- 1
Eastern Conn. (7-2-1, 3-0-1 little east)      0    1    (0)    (0) -- 1

Scoring W-Catherine Nathans 54:05; E-Sarah Swann (Nicole Gaudette) 67:00.
Shots: W-16, E-8; Saves: W-Shannon Cawley 4, E-Kim Church 8. Corner kicks: W-8, E-5.