MANSFIELD, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team was able to capitalize on enough of numerous scoring opportunities to forge a 2-0 non-conference victory over Johnson & Wales University Tuesday and halt a five-game losing streak in its regular-season finale.
Eastern (7-9) won its first home match in a month when senior midfielder Paige Schneider (East Lyme) and graduate student forward Brianna Passero (Trumbull) scored 14 minutes apart and hopes that the victory will serve as a springboard when the eighth-seeded Warriors visit top seed and defending champion Keene State College in the first round of the Little East Conference playoffs Saturday at 4 p.m. The Owls have eliminated the Warriors from the playoffs the last two years. Eastern won two LEC playoff matches a year ago to move into its first final, where it dropped a 2-1 decision at Keene.
Nine minutes after Eastern senior midfielder Gabriela Meza (Norwalk) kept the game scoreless with a defensive save, Schneider took a feed from junior Alex Kallgren (Dudley, MA) at the right post, and turned in traffic to deposit her fifth goal (first in non-conference play) past Johnson & Wales (6-11) goalie Claire Nolan with 4:39 left in the first half.
The Warriors had a handful of additional chances through the first ten minutes of the second half before Passero extended her team goal lead to eight 11 minutes into the second half. With the Wildcats playing a man down, Passero capitalized with a re-direct at the right post off a drive throw traffic from senior forward Caroline Regan (Niantic).
Passero had five of Eastern's 15 shots, putting all of them on net, while Eastern's starting defense of seniors Alexandra Steward (Old Saybrook), and Shannon Connors (Westport) and junior Katy Jankura (Guilford) helped senior goalie Samantha Scavo (Redding) and junior Maddie LaRusso (Enfield) combine on the team's fifth shutout. Scavo made three stops in the first half and LaRusso four in the second.
Despite creating many opportunities for herself and her teammates, Kallgren was kept off the board, leaving her with a share of the program's all-time goal lead of 29 with Hall of Famer Mo Deegan. Kallgren has gone scoreless in the team's last six games after netting a pair in a Little East victory at Salem State University Oct. 1.
Johnson & Wales junior forward Giovanna Ciavardoni was thwarted despite collecting half of her team's eight shots, putting all four of them on net.
Nolan kicked out nine shots for the Wildcats, who lug a three-game losing streak into their conference tournament Saturday.