NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team snapped a streak of four straight shutout losses on the home field of Connecticut College, but junior defender Emmanuel Agyemang's (East Hartford) fifth penalty kick goal this year was not enough to prevent the Warriors' fifth straight loss to the Camels on their home field by a 3-1 score Tuesday afternoon at Freeman Field.
In a battle of teams ranked within the New England Top 10, eighth-ranked Eastern (10-2-0) fell behind 2-0 after a scoreless first half when No. 4 Conn (6-1-2) scored its sixth and seventh straight unanswered goals 11 minutes apart against the Warriors on its home field over the span of five games before Agyemang remained perfect (5-for-5) on PKs this season to slice the Camel lead in half with 22 minutes left in the game.
The one-goal margin remained for only 25 seconds, however, as Conn answered immediately on Matt Butera's second goal of the match to re-store the two-goal edge.
The teams played a scoreless deadlock through the opening 45 minutes of action. Even though both teams combined to unleash 12 shots, including five on target, many of them were either outside of the box or at difficult angles with both defenses holding their ground. Eastern arguably had the best opportunity of the half in the 32nd minute when Little East Conference sophomore scoring leader Patrick Agyemang (East Hartford) took a pass from senior midfielder Justin Jensen (Wethersfield) and – aiming for his 14th goal of the season -- unleashed a shot from the top of the box in transition, but his rocket aimed at the bottom right of the net was turned away by junior keeper AJ Marcucci, resulting in a corner kick. On the corner – the only one of the half awarded to Eastern -- Camel defender Liam Donelan successfully headed the cross inside from Jensen away, and the match remained tied heading into recess.
The Camels quickly got on the scoreboard in the second half when sophomore Lorenzo Bocchetti was taken down in the box and the team was awarded a penalty kick. Donelan converted to the upper 90, putting the hosts on the board less than three minutes into the second stanza.
Shortly afterwards, Conn doubled the margin and began pulling away in the 59th minute when Steve Yeonas sent a cross in from the left corner that was initially deflected by a Warrior defender before finding the foot of Butera from the top of the box.
The Warriors had an answer on the other end by earning a penalty kick of their own, as Emmanuel Agyemang beat Marcucci with a hard shot to the goalkeeper's left side in the 69th minute, but Butera struck again seconds later. The Camel senior, who entered the match with two goals in his career, finished a pass from sophomore Augie Djerdjaj by sliding the ball past a challenging junior keeper Kyle Boutot (Tolland) to put the match away.
Marcucci picked up the victory by making six saves for Conn, which had a 19-11 advantage in total shots as well as a 4-3 edge in corner kick opportunities. Boutout (10-2) redirected three shots in the setback.
Eastern hosts Keene State College in a Little East matchup at Rick McCarthy Field Saturday at 1 p.m. Despite losing a 1-0 road decision to Keene last year, the Warriors finished a game ahead of the Owls in the race for the LEC regular-season title. At home, top-seeded Eastern was eliminated in the playoff semifinals while second-seeded Keene advanced to the final (and a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 3 Western Connecticut) with a 1-0 win over No. 3 UMass Boston at Rick McCarthy Field.
Under 13th-year Eastern head coach Greg DeVito, the series with Keene has been a virtual stalemate, which team winning five times and the teams tying five times. At home Eastern holds a 4-2-3 series lead.
Eastern is ranked No. 1 in the LEC pre-season poll, Keene No. 4.
Eastern shares the LEC lead with Rhode Island College, both teams at 3-1-0. Keene is 2-1-0 in the conference, 8-3-0 overall heading into Wednesday's game at nationally-ranked RPI. The Warriors are 5-0-0 at home this year, Keene 5-1-0 away from the Owl Athletic Complex.
Connecticut College Sports Information contributed to this game account.