Cardinals defeat Warriors for first time in last five matches between teams
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - Coming off an unbeaten regular season in 2010, being picked to win the 2011 Little East Conference championship and opening the season with a national ranking, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team was fully aware of the target that had been applied to its back.
At right: Junior back Rachel Cutler (blue jersey) applies pressure against Wesleyan Wednesday. (Liz Cutler photo)
Wednesday, Eastern (2-3-0) dropped its third straight match after two opening victories, falling by a score of 3-0 in a non-conference meeting with Wesleyan University. The Cardinals scored twice in a span of seven minutes late in the first half and made it 3-0 five minutes into the second half.
Behind seven saves from freshman goalkeeper Jessica Tollman, Wesleyan (2-0-0) rolled to the victory over the Warriors, ranked No. 5 in this week's NSCAA New England ratings.
The victory gives the Cardinals their first 2-0-0 start in 14 years and snaps their four-game winless (0-2-2) against the Warriors dating back to 2007.
After a scoreless 35 minutes,Laura Kurash put the Cardinals on the board at the 35:44 mark. Kerry Doyle sent a corner kick into traffic in front of the net, and Kurash headed it in for her second goal of the year.
Wesleyan extended its lead to 2-0 late in the first half. A shot by freshman Clare Ashforth was blocked by an Eastern defender, and Kaylin Berger took control of the ball 35 yards out. Berger sent a rocket that deflected off the underside of the crossbar and past Eastern junior keeper Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield) 2:07 left in the half for her first goal.
The Cardinals made it 3-0 just over five minutes into the second half. Emma Nitzberg sent a pass from the left side to Doyle in the box. Doyle beat an Eastern defender and sent a shot into the right side of the net at the 50:10 mark for her first goal of the year.
Down by three goals, Eastern's best scoring chance came in the 69th minute. Junior forward Daniela Marchitto (Orange) hit the crossbar with a shot from the top of the box, but Wesleyan was able to clear the ball before Eastern could get off a second shot. Eastern managed 16 shots but put only seven of them on net.
Tollman made seven saves for her first collegiate shutout in two starts while MacLeod finished with five.
Eastern opens its Little East Conference season Saturday at Rhode Island College at noon
Wesleyan University Sports Information contributed to this report.