WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph soccer team was handed a 3-1 loss by the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors on the road on Wednesday night. With the setback the Blue Jays drop their record to 3-4 overall on the season. ECSU improves to 5-2 on the year with the victory.
Ranked No. 7 in New England, Eastern built a 2-0 lead at the half, but couldn't convert numerous opportunities to put the game away. A minute after USJ freshman keeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) made a one-hand save at the left post to keep it a two-goal game, Saint Joseph's Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, CT/Watertown) cut the lead in half with her second goal of the season with 28 minutes left in the game.
Eastern, who ended up outshooting the Blue Jays, 16-5, in the match continued to threaten while protecting the one-goal lead before freshman Abbey Fitzsimmons (West Hartford, CT/Northwest Catholic) knocked in a free kick by junior McKenzie Reimondo (Portland, CT/Portland) with just over three minutes left in the match for the 3-1 final decision.
Reimondo was awarded the free kick from outside the box after teammate Kaley Pratt (Milford, MA/Milford) was flattened while in possession of the the ball. Reimondo unloaded a line drive that sailed untouched through the box to the far post, where Fitzsimmons got a foot on it and beat Ricci in traffic from in close.
Until Fitzsimmons connected late in the second half, the first three goals of the match came from long range. Eastern's Joanna Weir (Hebron/Lyman Memorial) collected a deflected ball from 25 yards out seven minutes into the game and sent a left-footed drive well above the leap of Ricci for the first goal of the match. Junior Michele D'Agata (West Suffield, CT/Suffield) made it 2-0 22 minutes later when she buried a 35-yarder from the left sideline on a pass from Pratt that carried just above the leap of Ricci.
Ricci made seven saves in the loss, while Eastern sophomore Kayla Labrecque (Westhampton, MA/Hampshire Regional) stopped two shots for her third win in four decisions. Eastern held a 9-2 advantage in corner kicks.
The USJ soccer team will be back in action next on Sunday, Sept. 25 when they host Rivier in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference battle on the USJ Soccer Field at 1 p.m. USJ enters the match 1-1 in the conference while Rivier is 0-2. ECSU next plays at Plymouth State on Saturday, Sept. 24 beginning at 1 p.m.