WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --Sophomore keeper AJ Marcucci needed only three saves to record his seventh shutout in nine starts as No. 11 nationally-ranked Connecticut College scored once in each half in a 2-0 non-conference men's soccer victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Tuesday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.
Senior Ben Manoogian headed in a corner kick from senior Christian Murphy in the tenth minute for the only goal necessary, and Marcucci was virtually untested as Conn (9-0-0) defeated Eastern (8-2-0) for the fourth straight season. The Camels are ranked second in New England. On the first-half goal, the 6-foot-1 inch Manoogian began his run from near the top of the box, knifed in between three Eastern defenders, timed his leap perfectly and sent in Murphy's serve inside the near post.
The match was stopped due to lightning after sophomore Liam Noonan gave the Camels their 2-0 lead with 79:11 gone – that goal also set up by Murphy, who upped his team with his sixth and seventh assists of the season.
The only goal allowed by the 6-foot-3 inch Marcucci this year came on a penalty kick in the third match of the season, a 4-1 home victory over Endicott College. Marcucci entered the match ranked fifth nationally in goals-against average. He lowered his mark from 0.13 to 0.12 in the team's sixth straight shutout and eighth in nine contests this season.
Following one-goal Little East Conference wins over Western Connecticut and Plymouth State University last week, Eastern (8-2-0) made its first appearance in the USC New England rankings in the fourth poll of the season, released today with a No. 10 ranking. Conn is now 4-0-0 on the road after handing the Warriors their first home loss after four victories.
While Conn scored on one of its two first-half shots that reached net, the Camels came out firing in the second half against Eastern sophomore keeper Kyle Boutot (Tolland), who had replaced senior starter Ryan Murphy (Cromwell) after the break. Making his third appearance off the bench this year, Boutot made four of his seven second-half saves in the first 13 minutes, denying several outstanding bids by Conn.
One minute into the second half, Boutot turned back Conn junior Manny Balbontin on a point-blank attempt after the Conn forward was gifted a poor Eastern pass in its own defensive end. Soon after, senior Michael Milhollen fed Murphy, who hit the post in his bid to double the Conn lead. Boutot later made consecutive saves on Uzii Dieng that kept the Conn lead at one goal.
Conn's second goal which beat the lightning came with 11 minutes left. Marcucci unloaded a booming punt that travelled well over midfield. Off the first hop, Murphy settled the ball and slid it immediately to Noonan. Murphy's pass split two defenders. Noonan touched it once with his right foot, and with Boutot out to to try and smother the shot, Noonan sent the shot with his left foot over Boutot and on a line inside the right post.
Eastern's best chance to tie the match came four minutes into the second half, when Eastern junior Justin Jensen (Wethersfield) hit the cross bar after receiving a pass from freshman Patrick Agyemang (East Hartford).
Conn outshot Eastern, 12-4, including 9-3 in the second half.
Eastern visits Lasell College Saturday at noon in a non-confere0nce match.