CASTLETON, Vt. – The series is in its early stages, but if the first two games are any indication, Eastern Connecticut State University and Castleton University meeting in women's soccer could develop into a spirited rivalry.
For the second straight season – first as Little East Conference rivals – Eastern (8-5-0, 4-2-0 LEC) and Castleton (5-10-0, 3-3-0 LEC) carried the match into overtime. After losing 2-1 at year ago at Eastern, Castleton returned the favor on its home field Saturday, scoring 5:40 into sudden death to win its second straight since a five-game skid, 4-3, at Dave Wolk Stadium.
Four days ago, senior midfielder Aly Clarke (Mystic) helped the Warriors recover after frittering away a 3-0 halftime lead by scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal with ten minutes left in a 4-3 LEC road win over UMass Boston – their first (and only) victory this year on the opponent's field.
Saturday, Clarke gave Eastern a quick lead again by scoring her team-leading eighth and ninth goals of the year just 16 minutes into play, and again, the Warriors gave the lead away. This time, they were not quite as lucky. The Spartans tied the match by halftime, 2-2, and after an own goal pushed Eastern into a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes left, Castleton forced overtime with the tying marker three minutes later, and won it early in OT.
It marks the first time since Oct. 7, 2015 that Eastern has lost a game despite scoring as many as three goals.
Eastern's loss – coupled with the University of Southern Maine's 1-0 home win over UMass Dartmouth – drops Eastern into a two-way tie for second place in the LEC with Southern Maine. Both teams have 12 points, three behind leader Western Connecticut. Eastern has two LEC regular-season matches remaining: Saturday hosting Southern Maine Oct. 27 visiting Rhode Island College.
A winner of seven straight, Western can unofficially clinch the No. 1 LEC playoff seed by winning one of its final two LEC contests: Oct. 20 at UMass Dartmouth or Oct. 27 hosting Plymouth State University.
The top six seeds compete in the LEC playoffs, beginning Oct. 30.