WALTHAM, Mass – Outscored by Brandeis University by a 9-2 count the last two seasons in the resumption of this series after a 24-year hiatus, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team gained a moral victory of sorts Tuesday night, allowing the unbeaten and 13th-ranked Judges a single goal in a 1-0 non-conference loss.
Overwhelmed by a 5-0 score the last time the teams met at Waltham two years ago, Eastern (3-2-0) limited Brandeis (4-0-0) – ranked No. 3 in New England -- to three corner kicks, and got seven combined saves from senior Kayla Labrecque (Westhampton, MA) and junior Erin Collins (Millis, MA) to remain within striking distance throughout. It was the fourth straight home contest for Brandeis this year. Collins inherited a 1-0 deficit to start the second half and turned away four shots to keep the margin manageable.
Sam Volpe's goal in the 30th minute – coming on a shot from distance that curled into the upper corner -- was the deciding goal and came on the heels of three straight Eastern shutouts that followed a season-opening 1-0 overtime loss.
The win allows Brandeis to tie the all-time series at 3-3-1.Eastern had prevailed in the two previous contests between the teams decided by a 1-0 score.
While the Warriors' defense was stellar against Brandeis, which had averaged nearly four goals a game in its first three wins, the offense had trouble getting untracked against the Judges, who held Eastern to one shot in the first half and four in the match.
Last year, Brandeis recorded at least ten wins for the sixth straight season and reached the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament – its sixth NCAA showing in the last eight years. The Judges have advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 or better in three of the last six years – including a Final Four appearance in 2016.
Eastern opens its Little East Conference season Saturday, hosting Keene State College at 1 p.m. on Alumni Day at Thomas Nevers Field.