Eastern Dismantles Western, 5-0, in Little East Semis
MANSFIELD, Conn. – The top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team scored three times in a ten-minute span late in the first half and went on to its most convincing Little East Conference playoff win, 5-0, over fourth-seeded and two-time defending playoff champion Western Connecticut State University Friday night at Rick McCarthy Field.
Now 10-0-0 at home, Eastern (17-2-0) moves into its sixth final – where it is 5-0 under 13th-year head coach Greg DeVito – Sunday at noon at home against second-seeded Keene State College (14-6-0). The Owls eliminated third-seeded Rhode Island College, 1-0, Friday evening at Keene, NH by scoring the only goal ten minutes into the second half.
The victory ties the record for most in a season over the 60-year history of the program, matching the 2012 team (17-2-1) which captured its fourth of five LEC playoff titles under DeVito that year.
In playoff titles games, Eastern has defeated Keene on penalty kicks for its first championship in 2007 and also won over Keene at home in the 2011 title game, 1-0. Eastern and Keene have comined to win 11 of 20 hampionships. The Owls, who lost to Western Connecticut in last year's championship game on Eastern's field, are appearing in the title match for the 12th time, having won six. Keene last won the title in 2010 over Rhode Island College before the Warriors copped three straight.
Ranked No. 7 in New England, Eastern shut out Keene, 4-0, at home in the regular-season Oct. 12.
Western brought a six-game unbeaten streak (3-0-3) into Friday's semifinals, where it had allowed only three goals in that stretch, and was 7-2-1 away from home in 2019.
After being outshot 30-4 in a 1-0 win at Western Connecticut on October 16, Eastern dominated from the outset Friday. Six different players contributed to the team's scoring, with senior forward Griffin Luczek (Lee, NH) giving Eastern the lead in the 20th minute, and later capping the onslaught by finishing off junior forward Danny Shayler's (Avon) feed with 50.1 second left to give the Warriors their largest winning margin ever in LEC playoff competition. Previously, Eastern had shut out UMass Dartmouth, 4-0, at home in the 2011 tournament semifinals.
In between Luczek's goals, freshman forward Ryan Sirois (Tolland), sophomore midfielder Will Toomey (Willington) and LEC sophomore scoring leader Patrick Agyemang (East Hartford) found the back of the net. Agyemang, who also assisted on Luczek's opening goal, converted a penalty kick after being taken down in the box two minutes before halftime to give Eastern a 4-0 lead at the break. The goal was the 21st for Agyemang,who has team-high 50 points this year and also shares the team lead with eight assists.
Making his first career playoff start, junior keeper Kyle Boutot (Tolland) made four saves, matching Western junior keeper Daniel Szabo. Boutot had a relatively easy evening, thanks to a defense that limited Western to only ten shots – four of them on goal.
The shutout was Eastern's 11th of the year – fourth I the last six games. At McCarthy field this year in its ten wins, Eastern has outscored its opponent, 42-2, and has outshot them by nearly 3-to-1. In ten home starts, Boutot has a 0.22 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. He has four full shutouts and has shared four at McCarthy Field.
Each team had an opportunity to score first with free kicks in the first five minutes, but Western's junior midfielder Matthew Restrepo hammered his shot from the edge of the box into the wall, and Eastern senior midfielder Jackson Toomey (Willington) sent a drive over the top of the net off a free kick by freshman midfielder Andres Mayuri (West Hartford).
Minutes before Luczek's opening goal, Agyemang threated twice, with his bullet through the Western defense directed right at Szabo, and Szabo following with his best save in a 1v1 situation with Agyemang from close range.