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Women's Soccer: Eastern's Defense Up To The Task, but Again Has Nothing to Show For It in 2-0 Loss to Ninth-Ranked Foe

Women's Soccer: Eastern's Defense Up To The Task, but Again Has Nothing to Show For It in 2-0 Loss to Ninth-Ranked  Foe

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Three days ago, a late goal with under six minutes left was the difference in Eastern Connecticut State University's 1-0 non-conference loss to visiting Trinity College. Saturday, an early goal by Brandeis University senior midfielder Katie Hayes 2:27 into the match was – for all intents and purposes -- the difference in a 2-0 non-conference setback to the visiting Judges.

Although it was out-shot by a wide margin, Eastern (5-11-0) got a career-high 16 saves from first-year junior keeper Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) to keep Brandeis (10-6-0) – ranked ninth in New England – from inflicting further damage until just 44.5 remained when sophomore forward Juliette Carreiro  snuck one underneath Tyrrell on the left post to close out the scoring.

Eastern drops to 1-6-0 at home, where it has faced four of its most competitive opponents in the last three weeks. Although it is winless in five matches this year against teams ranked nationally this week, Brandeis remained perfect (10-0-0) against unranked foes this season. Brandeis has won six straight on the road since opening with a 4-0 loss at MIT, New England's top-ranked team.

Tyrrell, playing in her sixth career game following the career-ending injury to senior Erin Collins (Millis, MA), set a personal-high in saves for the second straight game. In Wednesday's loss to Trinity, she stopped nine shots only to be beaten on a rebound goal with 5:41 left. In addition to her save total Saturday, Tyrrell came off her line to punch out or grab corner kicks and crosses to diffuse potential scoring chances.

Eastern's young starting defense – led by junior Madison Leary (Portland) and freshmen Destiny Perez (Vernon), Grace Muller (Johnston, RI), Emily Barata (New Fairfield) and Emily Belval (Southbury) and sophomore Jada Augustin (Stratford) and freshman Meghan O'Shaughnessy (Salem) off the bench – limited the Judges to only four corner kicks and to only a handful of dangerous scoring threats.

Brandeis, a winner of four straight against Eastern (three by shutout) capitalized on the first chance of the game when Hayes found room in the box and knocked in a long free kick by freshman midfielder Caroline Swan just 2:27 into the contest. Swan took the free kick from 40 yards after junior teammate Daria Bakhtiari was tripped hard from behind. Swan unloaded a perfect ball into the box, where  the 5-foot-7 inch Hayes leaped high above two defenders – and above the late charge of Tyrrell -- from 12 yards and dropped it under the cross bar into the lower left back of the net. It was Swan's fourth assist of the year and Hayes' second goal.

With eight minutes left in the first half, the Judges nearly doubled their lead when a shot by Carreiro hopped past a prone Tyrrell, but Belval swooped in to clear it in front of an open net. Earlier in the half, Tyrrell caught a low, hard shot by Swan from in close in the gut to deny her a scoring change. Swan also lofted a free kick from 30 yards into the box ten minutes into the second half, but Tyrrell leaped to make the save.

Eastern's only corner kick came midway through the second half, but Muller could not get a head on it, and senior keeper Victoria Richardson knocked Belval's cross straight down, then recovered to secure possession in traffic.

Brandeis' other second-half chances came from  freshman forward Morgan Clark, when she collected a deflection in the box, but her open 16-yarder sailed high. Six minutes later Carreiro set up sophomore midfielder Lauren Mastandrea with a crossing pass from the left side, but the ball skidded off Mastandrea's head as she was unable to capitalize on an open 12-yarder.

Richardson  did not make a save in recording her fourth shutout in 15 starts.

Eastern closes out the regular season Saturday hosting Plymouth State University at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference match.