Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's soccer team registered the program's first victory over Eastern Connecticut State with a 1-0 non-conference win at Leary Field Wednesday night. The Blazers improved to 2-1 on the season, while the Warriors slid to 1-1-1 overall.
In their first meeting in two decades, the Warriors pressured the Blazers early, outshooting Elms, 6-1, in the opening 17 minutes of action. Elms sophomore Rebecca Molin (West Hartford, Conn.) denied the next three attempts from Eastern Connecticut while the Blazers looked for an opportunity to strike.
In the 32nd minute of play, the Blazers broke through as senior Mackenzie LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.) lofted a corner kick to the far side of the back, where junior Kelsey Shea (Belchertown, Mass.) elevated over the Warrior defense and headed the ball to the inside of the near post, staking the Blazers to a 1-0 advantage. Elms maintained their lead heading into halftime.
The squads went shot-for-shot in the opening minutes of the second half until Eastern Connecticut pumped seven straight shots, but Molin made a trio of saves to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard. With less than five minutes to play, Eastern Connecticut mounted a final surge with three consecutive shots in a two-minute span, and again Molin was clutch with three stops to secure the 1-0 victory.
The Warriors controlled the shot column, 23-5, during the contest. Molin (2-1) made a career-high 11 saves in the win, while Eastern Connecticut junior Kayla Labrecque (1-1-1; Westhampton, Mass.) stopped two shots.
"This is an absolutely massive win," said Elms College Head Coach Sean Milbier. "We have so much respect for a program like Eastern Connecticut. They have been a powerhouse in this region for 10-plus years. They were very good today, but we were a little better. We knew [East Conn] would have more shots and they would have possession, we just had to be really strong defensively, get two or three chances, and capitalize on them. Mackenzie [LaRochelle] played a superb ball on the corner, and Kelsey [Shea] went up and got it and placed a beautiful header back across to the far side. Just a great goal. I think we came together as a team in a big way tonight. We went a long way towards believing we can rely on our mates, we can rely on each other, and we really grew as a team. Becca [Molin] was absolutely phenomenal, the best player on the field, and we don't win that game tonight without her in between the pipes. Nobody works as harder than Becca Molin. It doesn't get much easier moving forward. Montclair State is ranked nationally, they are a very physical side, very good. It will be a difficult battle there, and then we have a quick turnaround against New England College, but we'll savior this, build off this, train for the next two days and go up there and look to get two results."
The Blazers will return to the pitch at the New England College Invitational this weekend, facing Montclair State Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Connecticut will participate in the Mayor's Cup this weekend, squaring off with Oneonta Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Hartwick College.