WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Sophomore forward Timothy Jennison (Coventry) celebrated his return to the lineup by scoring the first goal and assisting on the second and third as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team chalked up its fifth straight shutout, 3-0, over Saint Joseph's College (ME) in a non-conference match Wednesday afternoon at Thomas Nevers Field.
After missing two games with injury, Jennison scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season on a hard shot at the near post in the 20th minute, then set up senior forward Mitch Power's (Douglas, MA) third goal of the year five minutes into the second half following a goalie punt by freshman Greg Walton (Brunswick, ME), then initiated the final goal of the match with six minutes left when sophomore back Zane Lombardo (Portland) took his short pass and sent it to freshman forward Alejando Tobon (West Hartford), who drilled his first career goal from 16 yards inside the right post.
The run of five straight shutouts equals the longest for Eastern (7-1-1) under seventh-year head coach Greg DeVito. In DeVito's first season in 2007, the Warriors posted shutouts in their final three regular-season matches, then blanked Rhode Island College and Keene State College to capture their first LEC post-season tournament title.
Walton, last week's LEC Goalkeeper-of-the-Week, extended his scoreless streak to 527 minutes and 55 seconds by keeping Saint Joseph's (7-3-1) off the board for the first 80 minutes as the Warriors stopped the Monks' seven-game winning streak. Saint Joseph's had given up a total of only two goals during that winning streak. Making his first appearance since the season-opener, freshman Curtis Barnes (Amherst, MA) completed Eastern's sixth shutout of the year over the final ten minutes.
Walton stopped four shots in lowering his goals-against average to 0.57 and raising his save percentage to .828. His most difficult save came in the 12th minute when he turned aside senior midfielder Kyle Shangraw's (Westbrook, ME) blast at the right post.
Having moved up three spots into seventh place in this week's NSCAA New England Rankings, Eastern could not capitalize on several prime scoring chances – at least two coming off corner kicks – to expand its first-half lead until Power connected in the 49th minute. Walton's long punt over midfield set up the play. Jennison gained control and quickly slid it to Power, who converted from the left side of the cage.
With his team trailing 2-0, Saint Joseph's sophomore keeper Scott Benner (Post Falls, ID) made a pair saves on rapid-fire, point-blank shots midway through the second half. Benner first batted down a drive by Eastern sophomore midfielder Arman Karbassioon (Cheshire), then recovered to stymie freshman forward Nicholas Warren's (Southbury) rebound bid.
Benner made six saves for Saint Joseph's, which was outshot 17-9 in losing the first match in this series between the two programs. The road match was the first for the Monks in two weeks.
Saint Joseph's College will host Anna Maria College at 1:00 PM on Saturday. Eastern plays the first of three straight road contests Saturday with a Little East Conference match at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
COURTESY OF ECSU SPORTS INFORMATION
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visitwww.sjcme.edu.