WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior midfielder Xavier Doran (Hebron) has been a starter throughout his four-year career with the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team.
Sunday afternoon, he did not start for only the fourth time in his 66-match career. Instead, he finished, playing the final 64 minutes off the bench and converting a game-ending penalty kick with 56 seconds left in double overtime as the Warriors won their sixth home game in seven decisions with a 2-1 victory over Babson College at Thomas Nevers Field.
The teams traded goals seven minutes apart spanning the first and second halves but neither could team through the next 60 minutes of play, until the hosts were awarded a penalty kick when Babson was issued a yellow card on a throw-in into the box in the final minute of overtime.
Doran, a two-time first-team All-Little East Conference player and the team's active leader in goals, ended the game with 56 seconds left. As Babson sophomore keeper Austin Mankouski (Suffield) dove to his right, Doran sent a clean shot the opposite way for his first goal this year, 16th of his career.
Three Eastern (7-6-0) keepers limited Babson (6-6-0) to just one goal, that coming four minutes into the second half when sophomore midfielder Youcef Ziad tied the game with his team-leading sixth goal of the year. Ziad scored on his own rebound after Eastern freshman keeper Kyle Boutot (Tolland) made a sensational save on Ziad's uncontested point-blank shot at the right post.
While Bouton made two impressive stops en route to his first collegiate win in his third appearance, Mankouski made the save of the game when he denied Eastern sophomore back Nick Starkowski's (Marlborough) header in traffic with a reaction save with 1:46 left in regulation.
Although Babson threatened on a handful of occasions in the first half – outshooting Eastern 21-7 over the first 45 minutes– it was Eastern which broke through first in the final minutes of the half when freshman forward Danny Shayler (Avon) came off the bench for his first career goal when he beat an unprotected Mankouski at the right post off a feed from senior midfielder JD Stearns (Bolton).
At right: Sophomore back Nick Starkowski beats Babson's Youcef Ziad to the ball during the Warriors' 2-1 double-overtime win Sunday at Thomas Nevers Field. Starkowski played all 109 minutes.
Eight minutes after he tied the match, Ziad nearly gave his team the lead but Boutot extended full out with a dive to his left to knock the ball away.
Two of Babson's best chances came two minutes apart in the first half. Eastern junior keeper Ryan Murphy (Cromwell) saved a point-blank shot by junior midfielder Noah Parke at the left post, and soon after, sophomore forward Alex Crompton sent a low drive inches wide of the right post.
Babson finished with a 21-9 advantage in shots and was credited with nine of the game's 12 corner kicks.
Freshman Jack VanRooyen (Wayland, MA) closed out the first half in net for Eastern, playing the final 11 minutes and protecting a 1-0 lead in place of Murphy before giving way to Boutot to start the second half.
Eastern hosts Keene State College in a Little East Conference match Saturday at 1 p.m.