MANSFIELD, Conn. – Fourth-year players Brianna Passero (Trumbull) and Darianne Mastricola (Jefferson, NJ) scored their second goals of the season as the Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team ended a ten-game losing streak at the hands of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a convincing 2-0 decision in the Little East Conference opener for both schools Wednesday at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
After near-misses each of the past three years – losing by a goal each time – Eastern (2-1, 1-0 LEC) never trailed Wednesday. Passero scored her seventh goal and tenth point in the last seven matches dating back to 2015 in the18th minute, and Mastricola came off the bench to make it 2-0 with just under nine minutes left. The Warriors were ranked fourth in the LEC pre-season coaches poll after reaching the LEC championship game. As the No. 2 seed, UMass (0-3, 0-1 LEC) was eliminated in the first round of last year's playoffs by No. 7 seed Worcester State University.
Eastern dominated the first half with an 8-2 advantage in shots, but with UMass pressing in the final 20 minutes of the game, the Warriors got the key insurance goal in the 62nd minute when Mastricola beat UMass junior goalie Allison Burke in the circle after taking a perfect feed from freshman Khiara Valentine (Morristown, NJ), who was credited with her first collegiate point.
Burke managed to stop Eastern's first shot of the game – a drive by sophomore Stephanie Hogan (Northford) 12 minutes into action – but was foiled by Passero five minutes later. The forward was stationed on the left side and drove senior MaryKate Custer's (South Windsor) pass from the circle past the goalie to put Eastern on top.
Eastern senior goalie Samantha Scavo (Redding) made the 1-0 lead stand up with 14 minutes left in the first half when she kicked out consecutive shots off of a UMass penalty corner. Minutes left, senior Paige Schneider (East Lyme) and junior Alex Kallgren (Dudley, MA) countered with bids to double the Warriors' 1-0 lead, but Burke was up to the task by making two of her three saves in the half. With room in front of the cage with five minutes left in the first half, senior Caroline Regan (Niantic) sent her only scoring chance wide.
Eastern outshot UMass, 16-7, forcing Burke into eight saves to keep the match close. Scavo stopped five shots. The Warriors doubled the Corsair's penalty corner total, finishing with an 8-4 advantage.
Dating back to mid-October of 2015, Eastern has captured eight of its last ten and is 10-2 at the Mansfield Complex since the start of last year.
Eastern visits the University of Southern Maine Saturday for a Little East Conference match at 1 p.m.