WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team made the most of four second-half shots – scoring twice and also converting a penalty kick – in posting its third consecutive shutout in a 3-0 non-conference victory over Babson College Saturday at Thomas Nevers Field.
Since dropping its season-opener, 1-0 in overtime, Eastern (3-1-0) has shut out three opponents by a combined margin of 7-0. The loss was the first of the year for Babson (2-1-1), playing its fourth straight road match. The contest was the first between the programs in 17 years, when the Beavers eliminated Eastern in overtime in the opening round of the ECAC tournament at Nevers Field.
As they did in Wednesday's 3-0 home-opening win over Elms College, senior Kayla Labrecque (Westhampton, MA) and junior Erin Collins (Millis, MA) split time in net, with Collins gaining the win both times after the Warriors snapped a scoreless first half with three second-half goals. Eastern has scored all seven of its goals this year in the second half. Saturday, each made six saves as Babson outshot Eastern, 20-9.
Senior forward Anna Manser (Manchester), junior forward Abbey Fitzsimmons (West Hartford) and senior midfielder Aly Clarke (Mystic) all connected on goals for Eastern in a span of 11 minutes in the second half.
In her first game this season, Manser beat Babson senior keeper Maddison Gierschick from ten yards inside the left post on a shot from the middle of the box in the 54th minute for the first goal of the match; Fitzsimmons left-footed a low shot from 12 yards in the middle of the box in the 61st minute to make it 2-0, and Clarke buried a penalty kick in the 65th minute to round out the scoring. They were the second goals of 2018 for Fitzsimmons and Clarke.
Senior midfielder Hannah Goodale (Coventry) set up the first two goals. On the first, she reversed fields with a long serve to freshman forward Haley Montesanto (East Haven) on the right wing. Montesanto short-hopped the pass with a one-timer to Manser, who split two defenders – running through the second player. It was Montesanto's first career point.
On the second goal, Goodale played the ball into the middle of the box from near the end line to Fitzsimmons, who settled the ball with her right foot and ripped a left-footer low inside the far right post. Clarke benefited with the penalty-kick goal after senior forward Nikki Basilicato (Guilford) was tripped trying to find room in the box near the end line. Eastern had gained possession when Basilicato stole the ball about 20 yards outside the box and dribbled all the way to the end line.
Trailing 3-0, Babson had several opportunities to ruin the shutout in the final 18 minutes, but each time was foiled by Collins. Her first save in that span came at the left post on a hard 20-yard drive; on the second, she stopped Babson freshman midfielder Katelyn Korzec, who carried down the middle before letting go from 18 yards; on the third one junior midfielder Maggie McCabe roped a 25-yard free kick that barely eluded the foot of an on-charging Korzec and sailed right into Collins' arms.
Eastern visits Brandeis University Tuesday at 7 p.m.