WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team weathered Ramapo College's first-half onslaught, getting goals from sophomore Sam Hurlburt (Cornwall) late in each half to post a 2-0 non-conference win Saturday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.
Ramapo (1-3-0) applied pressure throughout the first half, hitting the crossbar and post, sending a number of opportunities just wide or high, and forcing Eastern junior keeper Ryan Murphy (Cromwell) to make four saves to keep the game scoreless.
The Warriors scored on a pair of counters, with Hurlburt netting the first two goals of his career by capitalizing on one-on-one situations with Ramapo senior keeper Ryan Sprague. The first came with just under eight minutes left in the first half and was set up on sophomore Nick Starkowski's (Marlborough) second assist of the season. The second goal all but secured the win with just over 12 minutes left and originated on senior Justin Grant's (Cromwell) long well-placed pass out of the backfield.
On the first goal, Hurlburt beat one defender on the left side for the first goal after receiving a pass from midfielde, carrying into the box and delivering a shot inside the first right post. On the second, Grant found Hurlburt unmarked past midfield. Hurlburt carred a good distance before cutting back inside and sending a hard drive over Sprague's head into the middle of the netting.
Leading by a goal, Eastern tightened its defense in the second half, allowing only two shots, both of which were saved by Murphy, who posted his third shutout in four starts this year (second straight) and lowered his goals-against average to 0.25 with a .958 save percentage. The starting defense of seniors Nicholas Warren (Southbury) and Alexander Fazzino (Bolton), Starkowski and freshman Adam Boutot (Tolland) kept the Roadrunners from mounting any serious threats.
Led primarily by juniors Trevor Albrecht, and Edward Franzoni, and freshman Antony Williams – who combined for 11 shots in the game – Ramapo threatened often in the first half, collecting 14 shots. Fifteen minutes into play Albrecht carried and sent a pass to his right to Franzoni in the box, forcing Murphy to make a diving save. Six minutes later, the Eastern defense cleared the ball out of the box with a header, with Franzoni sending a drive wide right. Murphy knocked the shot over the end line, and on the ensuing corner kick, sophomore Ronald Kestelboym sailed his shot over the cross bar from the right side.
One of Murphy's best save came with 17 minutes left in the first half of a scoreless game, with he reacted quickly to punch Albrecht's blast from 18 yards – headed for the upper corner – over the bar.
In an effort to tie the game, the Roadrunners created two scoring chances in the final seconds of the first half. A 20-yard free kick produced nothing directly with a minute left, but Ramapo maintained possession, eventually unloading a shot which missed by inches, caroming off the right crossbar with four seconds left. The ball rebounded to the far side of the box, where a rebound shot from a difficult angle was driven high and wide of the right post as time expired.
The victory gives Eastern a 7-1-2 mark against Ramapo – the top seed in the ECAC tournament last year – in the last ten meetings.
Eastern hosts Anna Maria College Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Nevers Field.