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W-Soccer: Valiants Tie Up Warriors, 1-1

Manhattanville breaks through after 345 scoreless minutes vs. Eastern

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PURCHASE, N.Y. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team surrendered its first goal to Manhattanville College in four matches, but the Warriors managed to extend their unbeaten streak against to four against the Valiants with a 1-1 double-overtime draw its final non-conference match of the year Wednesday night at Field.

At right: Kaitlin Thibodeau

Eastern (8-7-1), which has now gone 11 consecutive seasons with at least one tie on its record, scored first on junior back Whitney Mantel's (Stamford) third goal of the season,  but Manhattanville (4-11-3) answered 11:31 later on Rebecca Breve's third goal of the year. 

In their final regular-season home match, the Valiants' managed their first goal against Eastern in 344 minutes and 58 seconds - since completing a 2-0 shutout of the visiting Warriors with 5:09 left in the match in 2009. The Warriors had shut out Manhattanville by a combined total of 12-0 the past three seasons.

In her ninth start of the season (seventh straight), freshman Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) made four saves for the Warriors in limiting the opponent to one or less goals eight times. Half of the eight goals allowed by Santos this year have come in one start three weeks ago.

The first half was mostly a possession battle between the two squads, as the ball remained in the midfield for a majority of the frame. Eastern had a 3-1 edge in total shots and put the only shot of the scoreless first half on target.

The match started to open up considerably at the start of the second stanza, with both teams getting some decent chances toward goal. Coming off the bench, sophomore Kaitlin Thibodeau (Tolland) nearly got Eastern  on the board in the 51st minute, but her header off a corner kick was cleared off the line by sophomore Christie Freer, who was manning the right post.

The scoreless tie remained for eight more minutes before the visitors got on the board first, when Thibodeau played a square ball to the top of the box to a waiting Mantel, who took one touch before slotting the ball into the low left corner.

But the Valiants did not go away, getting the equalizer in the 70th minute to knot the score at one. Breve and classmate Christie DeMarco played a nice give-and-go to free Breve at the left side of the box, and she managed to chip the ball over the head of Santos from a very tough angle for her third score of the year.

The Valiants had a few other chances in the remainder of regulation, including an adept give-and-go between DeMarco and junior Tori Lettieri  that resulted in a Lettieri shot creeping just over the crossbar in the 80th minute. But neither team could find a second goal, sending the game into extra time.

Twenty minutes of extra time saw very few chances for either side. For the match, Eastern held a 15-8 edge in total shots, with shots on goal even at five apiece.

Manhattanville is under the direction of ninth-year head coach Matt Paton, who spent six seasons as Eastern's head coach (1994-1999) and left as the program's all-time winningest head coach. Current Eastern 14th-year head coach Chris D'Ambrosio served two years as Paton's assistant coach before assuming the head spot in 2000.

Eastern closes out the regular season Saturday at home against Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference match. Unofficially, a 15th straight win against the Panthers gives Eastern the No. 4 seed and a first-round LEC playoff home match Tuesday.

Manhattanville College Sports Information contributed to this game account.

W-Soccer: Merheb's Goal Stands Up


Warriors catch UMass Dartmouth for fourth place in conference with 1-0 victory

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MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior midfielder Tamar Merheb (Bethel) scored her first goal in a month and senior back Megan Godwin (Manchester) contributed her first assist since her freshman season to lift the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team to a 1-0 Little East Conference verdict over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

At right: Senior back Megan Godwin contends with UMass midfielder Tori Pierce Saturday in the Warriors' 1-0 LEC win. (Photo by Haley Heslin).

In a match which featured minimal scoring chances by either team, Eastern (8-7-0, 3-3 LEC)  gained a share of fourth place in the conference standings with UMass Dartmouth (10-6-1, 3-3 LEC) by extending its unbeaten streak against the Corsairs to 18 (17-0-1) since 1995.

The Warriors close out the conference regular season Saturday by hosting Plymouth State University (1-5 in the LEC), while UMass Dartmouth hosts Western Connecticut State University (currently 4-1 in the LEC prior to Saturday afternoon's home contest with Keene State College) Saturday.

The top six teams in the final conference standings qualify for the LEC playoffs which get underway Nov. 5. The top two seeds gain first-round byes, while the No. 3 seed  hosts the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed hosts the No. 5 seed.

Less than three minutes after sending a prime scoring chance over the crossbar from 12 yards,  Merheb recorded her first goal of the year since Sept. 25 when she corralled Godwin's short volley from the middle of the box, and sent a high shot over the head of UMass  senior keeper Michelle Miller inside the right post in the 29th minute.

The 1-0 decision is the fourth straight and ninth this season for Eastern, which has won five times by that score. UMass Dartmouth has been shut out in its last five losses, four of those matches ending in a 1-0 decision.

Eastern freshman Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) was not tested in recording her fifth shutout in nine starts. She lowered her goals-against average to 0.87. Santos' only save was an easy one and came seven minutes after Merheb's go-ahead goal on a bouncing shot by junior forward Maura Gonsalves - the Corsair's second-leading scorer.

Eastern's starting defense of Godwin, junior Whitney Mantel (Stamford) and sophomores Alyssa Valenti (Tolland) and Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) limited the Corsairs' three double-digit scorers to four shots, only one of which was on goal. UMass was also limited to one corner kick in each half.

Other than Merheb's two chances, Eastern's only legitimate chance at scoring came midway through the first half on a play off a corner kick by senior midfielder Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, NJ).  Freshman Hailey Lehning (Woodbury), who shares the Eastern scoring lead with Leonard, had the ball on her foot at the right post, but it was cleared out of danger by the UMass defense before she could get a shot off.

The Corsair's most dangerous scoring bid came with ten minutes left in the first half when senior midfielder Jillian Van Ness took the ball away from an Eastern defender in the Warriors' defensive third. She then made a crossing pass to junior forward Shelby Friedland - who had entered the match just minutes early. Alone in the middle of the box, Friedland had an open goal with Santos on the left post, but she slid the shot just wide of the right post.





Women's Soccer Upended in Little East

Rhode Island College gains rare victory over Warriors, 1-0

merheb_raw 023.jpgPROVIDENCE, R.I. -  Playing its eighth match this season decided by a 1-0 score, the Eastern Connecticut State University  women's soccer team was beaten by Rhode Island College for only the second time in the last 13 meetings in a Little East Conference match Saturday afternoon at the RIC Soccer Field.

At left: Tamar Merheb

Now 4-4 this year in games finishing 1-0, Eastern (7-7-0, 2-3-0 LEC) has absorbed as many as three regular-season conference losses for the first time in 13 years. The Warriors had lost one or no conference matches 11 times in the previous 12 season.

Led by sophomore forward Gabrielle Turner's header in the 85th minute, and junior goalkeeper Audrey Maia's second straight shutout, Rhode Island College (5-8-1, 1-4-0 LEC) won for the first time in five conference games this year. The Anchorwomen also stopped a five-game losing streak at the hands of Eastern and won for only the second time over the Warriors since 2001. Eastern had won its five previous matches against RIC by a combined score of 30-3.

The loss drops Eastern from a share of  fourth place in the conference into fifth place. With two regular-season conference matches remaining, Massachusetts Dartmouth took over sole possession of the fourth spot by pasting host Plymouth State University, 4-1 Saturday afternoon.

The top six finishers in the eight-team loop qualify for the conference playoffs, which get underway Nov. 5. Keene State College, UMass Boston and Western Connecticut State University currently share the top spot at 4-1-0, the trio vying for the two first-round playoff byes accorded the top two finishers.

The teams were relatively quiet on offense until the final minutes of the second half, when Eastern' nearly took the lead on a goal from sophomore forward Brianna Curcio (Southbury) in the 77th minute. However, the Warriors were called offside, their eighth offside call of the afternoon, leaving the two squads deadlocked with roughly 13 minutes left to play.

After nearly breaking the scoreless tie on an opportunity set up by a corner kick in the 84th minute, the Anchorwomen finally found the back of the net a minute later to jump ahead of the Warriors by a goal. Following a foul on the visitors, junior midfielder Lauren Maisano lined for a free kick from inside the midfield line and sent a towering blast into the box toward the Eastern freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks).

However, as Santos came out of her post to corral Maisano's ball, she collided with Rhode Island junior midfielder Danielle Peloquin, sending both players to the turf. With the net momentarily empty as Santos struggled to get to her feet, Turner headed the loose ball into the goal from just outside the left post for her seventh score of the season.

Eastern came within inches of tying the game minutes later, when senior midfielder Tamar Merheb (Bethel) fired an uncontested shot from the top of the box that slammed into the crossbar and bounced away. 

Both keepers made seven saves, Maia recording her third shutout.

Eastern hosts Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference match.


W-Soccer: Hilites vs. Trinity College

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WATCH: Highlights of the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer non-conference match against Trinity College Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. Segment filmed and produced by Sports Information intern Patrick Boyne and narrated by Nick Aconfora.

A Father & Son Soccer Reunion

dambrosios72_0014.jpgby Brent Pelella / Sports Information Staff

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Chris D'Ambrosio hasn't lost a step as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer coach since he took the helm at the start of the century. His consistent production season in and season out has been a reliable niche in the athletic program.

At left: Women's soccer coach Chris D'Ambosio (left) has been joined at Eastern this year by his oldest son, Cooper, a sophomore member of the men's soccer team.

However, things around the coach are changing.

Fourteen years into his tenure as the program's winningest head coach, it's fair to say that he has made this school part of his family, and as recently as this fall, his family is creating less of a distinction.

Nineteen-year-old Cooper D'Ambrosio, the second of Chris and Gina's two sons,  grew up on the sidelines next to his father, watching a good percentage of his 162 wins.

Now the son of the women's soccer coach is wearing Warrior colors as a member of the men's squad, "I'm excited to be at Eastern. I grew up around this school, and it feels like it was just meant to happen," says Cooper, who stepped into a starting spot in head coach Greg DeVito's starting backfield this fall.

Cooper, who recently returned to the lineup after sitting out two matches with a broken nose, began his career as a freshman at Division I University of Hartford. The experience was rigorous, but has helped him understand what it takes to be successful, "Everyone (at Division I) has an excellent skill set, and so it comes down to who works the hardest," noted the Andover native. "It would have been a challenging opportunity for me (to remain at UH), but financially and sentimentally, Eastern just made more sense."

dambrosio_profile_1057_001.jpgThe passion that Cooper expresses about the game of soccer is so strong it led this writer into a whirlwind of questioning. It was poetic to see such strong emotion for something created and developed by the nurturing of his parents.

At left: Chris D'Ambrosio

It may be taken for granted at times, but in many instances the tables are turned. In fact, Andre Agassi once talked about the result of his father's influence, "I told a lot of people that I hated tennis -- seriously and strongly hated it -- and they all tried to talk me out of it... But they didn't know my father."

Coach D'Ambrosio knows how influential a father can be, and he's done his best to let his eldest son write his own path, "Cooper is his own person, and he's very confident in his own skin. I'm happy he's found a place, in Eastern, that makes him comfortable."


Despite his free spirit, Cooper exemplifies the same competitiveness and devotion that his father had as a soccer player at St. Thomas in Miami in the mid-1980s. The father and son mirror each other off the pitch with loquacious personalities that radiate with every word.

It's evident that the family tradition of sports passion has carried from the former UConn gymnast mother and the star soccer goalkeeper father to the next generation of  D'Ambrosios:  Cooper and younger brother Carson, a senior at RHAM High School in Hebron whose list of potential college programs includes Eastern.

At right: Cooper D'Ambrosio

While Cooper is passionate about the game of soccer, his future aspirations revolve not around the pitch, but around the broadcast booth.
"I look forward to continuing my degree in communications, and working toward being a broadcaster, said Cooper, who looks to get his feet wet this winter and spring as a member of the Eastern student broadcasting team."When I was younger I loved (broadcasting) so much I used to mute the TV and announce sporting events myself."

The long-time women's soccer coach has raised his son to be an independent, self-sufficient young man. Cooper's dreams aren't parallel to his father's, but it's easy to draw the palpable comparisons. Of course, those who know Chris D'Ambrosio would just chalk it up to another soccer player who's been positively affected by the truly genuine, compassionate coach.


W-Soccer: Trinity Tames Warriors in OT

With decisive advantage in shots, visitors finally break through

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At left: Eastern's defense is all eyes early in the second half of Wednesday night's overtime loss to Trinity College. (Photo by Liam Murphy)

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- After dominating player with a 20-2 advantage in shots, Trinity College finally came away with the women's soccer victory when junior midfielder Elisa Dolan sent a 22-yard free kick from the top of the box over the wall and under the crossbar with just over seven minutes gone in overtime in a 1-0 win over Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday night at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
Ranked in a tie for sixth in New England, Trinity (9-2-0) returned to the win column after consecutive losses to regionally-ranked teams. Eastern (7-6-0) lost its first home match after five home wins in as many contests and has now beaten Trinity only once (1-3-4) in the last eight meetings between the programs.

The Warriors did not have a shot after the first period, but had survived numerous Trinity bids which included a pair of shots early in overtime which bounced off the crossbar and off the left post, respectively,  minutes before the winning goal.

Trinity was able to keep constant pressure on the Eastern net by putting 13 of its 20 shots on cage, finally breaking through on the free kick.
Eastern freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) made a career-high 12 saves in the loss but by giving up only one goal in 97 minutes, was able to lower her goals-against average to just under 1.00 at 0.99 and raise her save percentage from .821 to .854.

Santos made eight saves in the second half alone on 12 Trinity shots. In the second half, Santos  kept the match scoreless with eight minutes gone when she drove to her left on a volley off the foot of Dolan, then one-handed a drive by sophomore forward Abbey Lake over the crossbar midway through the half.
Eastern visits Rhode Island College Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference match.


W-Soccer: At Home, Warriors Cookin'

Defense neutralizes Southern Maine in 1-0 Little East  win


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MANSFIELD, Conn. --  Brianna Curcio's (Southbury) first goal of the season midway through the first half was enough for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team to remain undefeated at home this year with a 1-0 Little East Conference victory over the University of Southern Maine Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

At right: Brianna Curcio shields the ball from Southern Maine's Becca Tanous in Saturday's 1-0 win over the Huskies. (Photo by Matt Hicks)

Making only her fourth straight of the season, Eastern's (7-5-0, 2-2-0 LEC) Curcio one-timed Nicole Leonard's (Rutherford, NJ) corner kick (Eastern's first of the match) past Southern Mine (4-8-1, 1-3-0 LEC) at the near post to break a scoreless tie.  Freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks), last week's conference Goalkeeper-of-the-Week made two routine saves in recording her third shutout in five career starts.

With its fifth victory at home in as many contests this year, Eastern moves from a tie for fifth in the conference standings into a tie for fourth.  With three regular-season conference games left, Keene State College is unbeaten (4-0-0), with Western Connecticut and UMass Boston a game back at 3-1-0. Keene edged homestanding UMass Dartmouth Saturday, 1-0, and defending playoff champion UMass Boston pounded visiting Western, 4-0, in a re-match of last year's LEC title match.

Curcio's third career goal was one of only a few real threats by either squad. Leonard, who took over the team lead with her third assist, had space in the box four minutes into the second half but couldn't give the Warriors an insurance goal as she one-timed  Tamar Merheb's (Bethel) cross from the right wide of the post.

Freshman Hailey Lehning (Woodbury), who played only the first 16 minutes of the first half, returned in the second half and threatened 15 minutes later. Lehning received a pass from Kaitlyn Kennedy (Burlington) on the end line and carried to goal, where she left-footed an uncosted  shot from close range over the far post with 11 minutes left.

Southern Maine's best chance to tie the match came in the final minutes, when Nicole Bordeau carried a pass from CC Pelletier on the right flank down to the end line, but her try at a bad angle sailed over the crossbar.

Southern Maine was held without a corner kick by Eastern and managed only five shots. Keeper Katie Cobb was not called upon for a save.

The win is the 14th straight for Eastern over Southern Maine in this series. The Warriors have won three of their last four this season while the Huskies are 1-7-1 in their last nine after opening with three consecutive victories.

Eastern hosts Trinity College Wednesday at 7 p.m.

W-Soccer: Amherst Pops Warriors, 4-1

Hosts end this match quickly with three goals midway through first half

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AMHERST, Mass. -  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team continues to struggle offensively, managing its only goal inside the final two minutes in dropping a 4-1 non-conference decision to Amherst College Tuesday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.

At right: Gia Karahalios' heads-up play helped the Warriors avoid a shutout.

Eastern (6-5-0) was coming off a pair of home victories, but Amherst (6-1-2) unloaded 30 shots in the match, scoring three times by the midway point of the first half in running its record against Eastern to 8-1-3 in the last 12 contests between the programs. Amherst is ranked in a tie for fifth in New England. The Lord Jeffs have won four straight and allowed only three goals all season.

Eastern avoided its third shutout of the season with two minutes left when sophomore back Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) got a head on a corner kick by senior midfielder Blair Church (New London) to keep it in the box. The ball then bounced off an Amherst defender on the way to the goal and was ruled to be an "own" goal.

The goal total is the highest by an Eastern opponent since Amherst totaled five in last year's victory over Eastern at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex. Since winning their opening two games this year by a margin of 6-0, the Warriors have scored more than once in a match only once.

Sophomore Megan Kim scored two goals for Amherst to improve her team-leading total to seven.

Eastern hosts the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Little East Conference match.

Little East: Four from Eastern Honored


Women's Volleyball vs. Keene State (Sept. 28)

Field Hockey vs. Southern Maine (Sept. 21)


Gasch, Luppi, Santos and Walton cited during week ending Oct. 6

pow100713.jpgLEC LOGO PARE72dpi.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Four Eastern Connecticut State University athletes - three of them defensive players representing three programs -- were recognized with individual awards as part of the fifth weekly Little East Conference awards program, announced Monday.

Freshman men's soccer goalie Greg Walton (Brunswick, ME) repeated as Goalkeeper-of-the-Week and was additionally cited as Rookie-of-the-Week; senior outside hitter Nicki Gasch (New Fairfield) and sophomore libero Allie Luppi (Tewksbury, MA) were recognized with volleyball's Offensive and Defensive Player-of-the-Week awards, and freshman Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks)  was named women's soccer Goalkeeper-of-the-Week.

The honor is the first in the careers of all but Walton.

Walton extended his streak to 551 minutes and 16 seconds without allowing a goal by playing the first 80 minutes in the team's fifth straight shutout and seventh straight win in a midweek victory over Saint Joseph's College (ME) and the first 21 minutes of a 1-1 double overtime road victory with Massachusetts Boston. Walton lowered his goals-against average to a season-best 0.57 with four saves in his fifth shutout in his ninth start against Saint Joseph's and raised his season's save percentage to a season-high of .829 with five saves against UMass Boston.

Eastern men's soccer players have been honored a total of six times this year. Freshman midfielder Nicholas Warren (Southbury) was named Rookie-of-the-Week twice and senior back/midfielder Carl Stensland (Storrs) Defensive Player-of-the-Week once.

Gasch led Eastern with 39 kills and 45.5 points in 12 sets and represented Eastern on the all-tournament team when the Warriors won two of three matches at its own Crabtree Classic. Gasch accumulated nearly one-third of the team's attack attempts and averaged 3.25 kills. In a Little East Conference three-set sweep of UMass Dartmouth in the tournament, Gasch had ten kills and a .259 attack percentage, and in a four-set victory over the University of New England, had a season-high 16 kills and attacked at .302.

Luppi averaged 5.45 digs and commited only three errors on 54 serve reception attempts for a percentage of .944.  Sharing libero duties recently, Luppi set personal highs with 23 digs twice at this past Saturday's Crabree Classic hosted by Eastern, and with 21 digs twice in two of the tournament matches. In a four-set victory over University of New England in the tournament , Luppi had 23 reception attempts with only one error, and 21 digs. In 63 sets this year, Luppi averages 2.75 digs and has a .951 reception percentage.

Prior to this week, senior libero Erynn Miller (Stratford) was named Defensive Player-of-the-Week twice and freshman outside hitter Adrianna Mihalek (Woodbury) Rookie-of-the-Week once.

Back in the starting lineup after missing nearly a month with an injury, Santos made eight saves to shut out 2012 Little East Conference playoff champion Massachusetts Boston Saturday at home. The shutout was the second in three career starts for Santos, who held the Beacons scoreless for the first time this year.Santos has a 0.33 goals-against average and .909 save percentage this year.

Previously this year, senior back Megan Godwin (Manchester) and sophomore back Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) were honored with weekly awards as Defensive Player-of-the-Week.

All three teams return to action on the road Tuesday. Men's soccer (7-1-2)  takes on Wesleyan University at 4 p.m., women's soccer (6-4-0) meets Amherst College (ranked No. 6 in New England) at 4 p.m., and women's volleyball (9-9) plays Western Connecticut State University in a Little East Conference match at 6 p.m.



W-Soccer: Warriors Still in LEC Chase

Kennedy's goal in opening minutes stands up in win over 2012 champs


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MANSFIELD, Conn. - The defense of the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team made an early goal by senior midfielder Kaitlyn Kennedy (Burlington)  stand up as the Warriors won their first Little East Conference match of the season by turning back the University of Massachusetts, 1-0, Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

At left: Kaitlyn Kennedy

The victory ended the four-game winning streak of UMass Boston's (6-4-0, 2-1-0 LEC), which had captured its first LEC playoff title a year ago after sharing first place in the conference with Eastern (6-4-0, 1-2-0 LEC). The Beacons and Warriorrs were ranked 1-2 in the Little East pre-season coaches' poll. UMass is ranked in a tie for 10th in New England.

Eastern won its fourth home game in as many tries when Kennedy scored her second goal of the season with just over a minute gone in the match after the Beacons were unable to clear an Eastern corner kick out of the box. Making her first start in nearly month due to injury, freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) posted her second shutout in three career starts. She made eight saves, five in the second to gain the decision over UMass junior Kristen Spain.

With 19 minutes left in the first half, senior midfielder Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, NJ) had a prime chance to double Eastern's lead, but her uncontested shot from inside 12 yards sailed high, and sophomore midfielder Samantha Bottaro (Southington) came off the bench for another Eastern scoring bid with six minutes left that ran wide of the left post.

Freshman midfielder Hannah Lear  and senior midfielder Sam Cristoforo  forced Santos to come up with saves on their combined total of five shots. UMass All-America junior forward Krista Ledin and senior forward Tayla Andrews - who have combined for 19 goals and seven assists this year - combined for three shots, making Santos come up with one save.

UMass, shut out for the first time this year, was held without a corner kick until through the first 50 minutes of the contest but finished with an 11-6 advantage in shots.

Eastern visits Amherst College Tuesday at 4 p.m.


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