HARTFORD, Conn. – Over the years, the proliferation of automatic-qualifying conferences has relegated the outcome of non-conference matches mostly meaningless. They have developed into glorified scrimmages – a developmental exercise for reserve players and an opportunity to rest starters and injured ones.
Such was the case Sunday, when the Trinity College women's soccer team scored once in each period against two Eastern Connecticut State University backup goalies in the Bantams' 2-1 non-conference victory Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 2-0, Eastern (10-6-0) got one back with 20 minutes left on the fifth goal of the season from senior Anna Manser (Manchester).
Trinity (5-6-3) is winless (0-4-1) against regionally and nationally-ranked teams this year, but finished its season 5-1-1 against non-ranked New England opponents after defeating Eastern for the third straight year.
With an outside chance of salvaging a .500 record (Trinity must defeat No. 11-nationally-ranked conference opponent Amherst in its season-finale Tuesday to do so), the Bantams played seven starters the full 90 minutes on Seniors' Day Sunday. With a key Little East Conference match Saturday at Rhode Island College possibly deciding the LEC regular-season championship, the Warriors had five starters log an average of only 25 minutes and four substitutes each play over 60.
Making her first career start in goal, sophomore Rachel Videira (Oxford) made three saves and allowed only one goal before giving way to sophomore Makeda Bailey (East Hartford) to start the second half. Bailey made two saves in her fourth appearance of the season.
Three minutes after Duun O'Hara took a cross from the left from Katie Marlow-Benedick and beat a charging Videira with a shot from the right into the left corner of the net to break a scoreless tie with 13 minutes left in the first half, Eastern junior Abbey Fitzsimmons (West Hartford) came off the bench and nearly tied the score, but her straight-away 22-yard blast skimmed just over the crossbar.
Videira kept the margin at one goal with several plays that diffused potential Trinity scoring chances. On a beautiful serve off a Trinity free kick, Videira commanded the ball when it bounced around dangerously in the box. She also dove to her left to smother a drive at right post on a shot from the right side of the box.
A road victory Saturday against Rhode Island College (2-4-1 LEC) guarantees Eastern (5-2-0 LEC) no worse than a share of its fourth straight LEC regular-season title. An Eastern win and a Western Connecticut (5-2 LEC) tie or loss against visiting Plymouth State University (2-5-0 LEC) Saturday unofficially provides the Warriors with the No. 1 playoff seed.