By Jon Wilson / Sports Information Staff
MANSFIELD, Conn. – Linnea Reich (Middletown) beat Plymouth State University goalkeeper Cat Robbins from the penalty spot with 7:11 left to play, breaking the hearts of the Panthers for the second time in four days in the first round of the Little East Conference Tournament. The Warriors took down Plymouth State with a 1-0 victory at Rick McCarthy Field in Tuesday night.
The second half began with the Warrior’s defense on their heels. Just 2:13 into the half, Eastern Connecticut junior goalkeeper Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) came out of her net to stop Plymouth State’s leading goal-scorer Mallory Lloyd’s 1v1 chance. Emily Belval (Southbury) cleared the ball off the line after the save, with the ball falling to another Panther attacker, seeing her shot saved, too. Tyrrell saved all eight of the shots fired at her in the match.
Freshman defender Emily Barata (New Fairfield) put in a game-saving tackle at midfield as Plymouth State had mounted a two against one counterattack off a Warrior corner kick. A missed tackle would have meant a pacey Panther attack running directly at Tyrrell with the Eastern defense yards behind.
The Warriors created multiple scoring chances in the secondhalf. Belval delivered back to back crosses off free kicks down the right flank, where Grace Muller (Johnston, RI) narrowly missed the goal wide. 23:03 into the half, Juliette Hogan (Preston) believed she had found the back of the net on a rebound and put the Warriors ahead off of a rebound inside the six-yard box, only to see the linesman’s flag go up for offside. Muller’s eyes lit up with a sight of goal minutes later, only to see the ball cleared away by a strong Panther defense. Nina Langton (Bolton) saw a header hit the crossbar and another saved just five seconds apart from off Belval’s corner kick with just over 12 minutes to play.
The Warriors found their breakthrough on foul in the penalty box that saw Hogan taken down from behind late in the second half.Reich sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to grab her first goal of the season and be the difference in the first round of the Little East Conference tournament.
Plymouth State and Eastern have now played almost 200 consecutive minutes against one another in the past four days. A physical 2-1 victory where the Warriors won in sudden death overtime on Saturday for the Warriors left a bad taste in the mouths of the Panthers. With tensions running high after the weekend and the magnitude of a conference tournament game, the two teams combined for 39 fouls and two yellow card bookings.
The second-seeded Warriors will advance to play top seed University of Massachusetts Boston on the road in the semifinals of the Little East Conference tournament Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern Connecticut fell to UMass Boston at home in September by a score of 2-0.