NEWTON, Mass. – Coming off a physical non-conference loss to a nationally-ranked team four days ago, the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team rebounded for its fifth road victory in six tries Saturday, shutting out Lasell College for the second straight season in a non-conference match, 3-0, at Taylor Field.
Sophomores Jake Szymko (Upton, MA) and Danny Shayler (Avon) scored five minutes apart late in the first half and three Eastern (9-2-0) keepers needed only two total saves as the Warriors posted their fourth shutout of the season. Eastern had shut out Lasell (2-7-2), 4-0, a year ago at Thomas Nevers Field in the first meeting between the programs.
Szymko also assisted on Shayler's first goal of the season in the 32nd minute, and scored his second goal of the season in the 37th minute to push the lead to 2-0. Both Shayler and Szymko came off the bench in the game.
Freshman Will Toomey (Willington) added an insurance goal five minutes into the second half on assists from junior defender Nick Starkowski (Marlborough) and sophomore defender Brendan D'Arcy (West Hartford). It was Toomey's second career goal, D'Arcy's first career point and Starkowski's first assist of 2018.
Szymko set up Shayler with a nice crossing pass from the right side to give the Warriors the only goal they would need. Freshman midfielder Joel Richards (Bridgeport) chested down a Lasell clearing attempt to begin the play, and looped the ball down the right sideline to Szymko. In a foot race with a Lasell defender, Szymko controlled the ball at the right corner of the 18-year box and carried it toward the end line before sending a crossing pass into the box. Lasell keeper Jackson Burhans held at the near post, but Szymko's cross carried to the far post, where a charging Shayler one-timed a left-footer inside the post.
Five minutes later, Szymko picked up a loose ball near the left post off a corner kick by junior midfielder Justin Jensen (Wethersfield) and deposited it past Burhans. On the scoring player, Jensen's corner sailed over the head of Szymko, who began at the near post before looping behind the keeper on the kick and setting up at the far post. When the loose ball off the corner could not be cleared by any of the four defenders surrounding him, Szymko turned and knocked it past the keeper with an off-balance shot from inside six yards.
Down two goals, Lasell nearly cut the margin in half with four minutes to go in the half but a shot by Andrew Flores-McKenna sailed over the top of the goal.
Will Toomey scored the final goal following a re-start. Starkowski sent a free kick near midfield across to D'Arcy, who teed it up and lifted a long serve that carried inside the box. Toomey beat his man at the top of the 18, settled the ball on the fly, took one touch, and fired a shot from six yards that hit off Burhan's hands and continued on inside the right post. It was Starkowski's first assist of the year.
At right: Will Toomey (Photo courtesy of Lasell Sports Information)
Eastern finished with a 15-4 margin in shots, and a 7-2 difference in corner kicks. Three Warrior goalkeepers combined on the shutout. Senior Ryan Murphy (Cromwell) made two saves in the first half and sophomores Kyla Boutot (Tolland) and Jack VanRooyen (Wayland, MA) saw time in the second half with neither having to make a save.
Eastern visits Elms College in the third of three straight non-conference matches Sunday at 6 p.m. before returning to Little East Conference play by hosting UMass Boston Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Nevers Field.
Eastern and Elms meet for the first time in 11 years, with the clubs playing to a 1-1 overtime time in 2007 at Chicopee, MA. The Blazers (4-7-0) are coming off their third straight win, 2-1, Saturday against visiting Lesley College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match.