MANSFIELD, Conn. – First-year senior Katie Calnen (Granby) scored goals on both of her shots in a span of seven minutes in the first half as the Eastern Connecticut State University field hockey team won for the fifth time in the last six outings in a 3-1 Little East Conference victory over Fitchburg State University Tuesday evening at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
With two conference matches remaining in regular season, Eastern (6-6, 5-4 LEC) has equaled its conference win total of a year and moved to within one of its overall win total of 2016. The Warriors are in fifth place in the conference, three games behind the leader and a half-game out of securing fourth place a first-round playoff home game Oct. 28.
Fitchburg (6-5, 3-5 LEC), which lost three all-conference players from a team with shared third place in the 12-team conference, had won its previous three Little East contests.
Tuesday, the Warriors applied early pressure, earning three penalty corners without a positive result before Calnen, who joined the team at mid-season, connected on her second goal of the season in the 17th minute on a tipped shot of a drive by junior Erin Sheehan (North Branford) after Fitchburg goalie Kasey Mammone had denied Sheehan and senior Tia LaFrance Boyce (Pawcatuck) with saves minutes earlier with a Fitchburg player off on a green card.
Eastern continued to threaten after the opening goal, with senior Alex Kallgren (Dudley, MA) hitting the post and Mammone making her third save on Sheehan's bid before Calnen made it 2-0 early in the 24th minute.
Fitchburg cut the deficit in half by the half on senior Casey Noonan's second goal of the year by depositing a loose ball in front of the cage, and had subsequent chances to gain the equalizer before the break but could not capitalize on three successive penalty corners.
Kallgren, the program's all-time leading scorer, notched the 34th of her 67-game career six minutes into the second half to provide the Warriors with a two-goal advantage. Senior goalie Maddie LaRusso (Enfield) made the lead stand up, finishing with six saves and getting defensive saves from juniors Allie Caruso (Wallingford) and Stephanie Hogan (Northford) two minutes apart on scoring attempts by Aislinn DeHorsey.
Sheehan was credited with the third and fourth assists of her career on the Warriors' first and last goals, with LaFrance Boyce picking up the second assist of the season and of her career.
Eastern visits conference leader Keene State College Saturday at noon.