WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Senior Aly Clarke (Mystic) had two goals and an assist as 19th-year Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer coach Chris D'Ambrosio posted his 100th Little East Conference regular-season win, 4-1, Saturday afternoon over University of Massachusetts Dartmouth at Thomas Nevers Field.
Three-time defending LEC regular-season champion Eastern (6-2-0, 2-0-0 LEC) extended its unbeaten streak in LEC regular-season matches to 27 (25-0-2) over a five-year period. D'Ambrosio is 100-20-8 (81.3 percent) in LEC regular-season play. In 18 full seasons, his teams have averaged 5.4 of a possible 7.0 wins in the LEC regular season.
UMass Dartmouth senior Taryn Carley cut Eastern's early 2-0 lead in half with her first goal of the year with five minutes left in the first half when she gained possession in UMD's offensive end, crossed over to separate herself from an Eastern defender and lofted a 22-yarder into the upper left-hand part of the netting. The goal is the only one allowed by Eastern in five home wins, the Warriors outscoring their home opponents 15-1.
Stephanie Sanchez' goal earlier in the half gave Eastern this 3-1 lead and some needed breathing room and sent 19th-year head coach Chris D'Ambrosio on the way to an eventual 4-1 victory and to his 100th Little East Conference regular-season win Saturday at Thomas Nevers Field
Seventeen minutes after Carley pulled UMass (3-5-1, 1-1-0 LEC) to within a goal, junior Stephanie Sanchez (Manchester) scored her fourth goal of the season for Eastern on her only shot to restore the two-goal edge. Freshman Haley Montesanto (East Haven) won the ball near midfield and sent it ahead to Sanchez, who carried on the left wing, used her quickness and speed to split two defenders, and fired a low hard shot inside the left post beyond the dive of UMD sophomore keeper Jaimee O'Brien.
Clarke's team-leading fifth goal of the year that made it 4-1 came when she touched a free kick on the left wing to senior defender Hannah Goodale (Coventry), who centered a pass which bounced off a fallen O'Brien. Clarke, following the play into the box after her free kick, one-timed a 16-yarder past the flat-footed goalkeeper.
Clarke and senior Anna Manser (Manchester) scored less than seven minutes apart early in the first half to vault the Warriors into a quick 2-0 lead before Carley countered late in the half to cut the Eastern lead in half at the break. After scoring the first goal on a 25-yard drive that hit the underside of the crossbar -- above a defenseless O'Brien -- and bounced over the goal line, Clarke and junior Abbey Fitzsimmons (West Hartford) were credited with their first assists of the season on Manser's second successful strike of 2018. Freshman defender Olivia Rovalino (Simsbury) won the ball on the sideline in Eastern's defensive end and sent it to an unmarked Fitzsimmons just over midfield. Fitzsimmons turned and relayed the ball to the middle of the field to a wide-open Clarke, who threaded a thru-ball to Manser breaking in alone on O'Brien. Manser tucked the ball under a charging O'Brien and inside the right post to make it 2-0 before the game was 20 minutes old.
Senior keeper Kayla Labrecque (Westhampton, MA) evened her personal record at 2-2 with her second straight win. Labrecque made one save in the first half and left with a 2-1 lead. Junior Erin Collins (Millis, MA) stopped five shots over 39 second-half minutes to preserve the lead, and sophomore Rachel Videira (Oxford) closed it out with six shutout minutes in her 2018 debut.
Collins was challenged 11 minutes into the second half of a one-goal game, but she was equal to a dangerous scoring attempt by UMD freshman Kaitlyn Bernier, coming off her line to stuff a shot on a breakaway. Three minutes after Sanchez' goal made it a two-goal game, Montesanto hit the right post from in close before Clarke followed in the final six minutes to make it a three-goal game.
Eastern visits Western Connecticut in a conference match Wednesday at 6 p.m.