Lord Jeffs Edged by 13th-Ranked Eastern Connecticut, 2-1

Hannah Cooper '13 scored for Amherst in the second half to make it a 2-1 game.

AMHERST, MA – Daniela Marchitto ’13 scored in the 13th minute and Jo-Ann Merheb ’12 converted a penalty kick in the second half to lead the Eastern Connecticut State University women’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over Amherst College Wednesday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.

Hannah Cooper ’13 (Bethesda, MD) made it a 2-1 game with 17:14 remaining in regulation, but the Warriors’ defense would not surrender another goal.

Entering the game as the NSCAA’s top-ranked team in New England and the 13th-ranked team in Division III, Eastern Connecticut improved to 12-0-1. The Lord Jeffs, who are ranked eighth in the region, dropped to 4-4-2.

The Warriors earned their first win over Amherst since 2002, as the Jeffs had posted a 5-0-3 record in the past eight meetings of the series. These teams met in the opening round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, when the Jeffs advanced with a 3-0 result at Hitchcock Field.

Amherst had chances to score early in the game when Maureen Griffin ’11 (Morgan Hill, CA) struck the ball well on a pair of corner kicks, but the Jeffs were unable to finish. Eastern came right back and nearly had its first goal in the opening 10 minutes when Marchitto dribbled into the box and fired a shot at goalkeeper Allie Horwitz ’12 (Woodbridge, CT), who knocked the ball away for a nice save. On the ensuing corner kick, Taylor Buchanan ’13 came up with the ball and had a wide open look at the goal, but she pushed her shot wide right.

The visitors would get on the board only two minutes later when Marchitto and Kelly Wallace ’13 were involved in a footrace with Horwitz, who was forced to sprint off her line after a long ball was played toward the box. Wallace got to the ball first and pushed a shot that seemed to be headed out of bounds over the end line, but Marchitto stuck with the play and was just barely able to get off a shot with her left foot. The ball trickled along the end line and eventually hit the side netting, giving the Warriors a 1-0 lead with 32:55 to play in the first half.

The Jeffs had a pair of chances late in the opening frame but would carry the 1-0 deficit into the break. Griffin found Jill Kochanek ’12 (Pittsburgh, PA) on a free kick from 25 yards out, but her header would hit the left post and go out of bounds. Moments later, an Amherst cross was misplayed by Eastern goalkeeper Theresa Pagnozzi ’12 and the ball headed toward the goal line. Elizabeth Ludlow ’14 (Huntington, NY) was nearly the first player to the loose ball, but Nicole Leonard ’14 cleared it off the line to prevent the tying goal.

Horwitz came up with a pair of great saves 10 minutes into the second half. Chelsea Downer ’13 dribbled in untouched from the right wing and ripped a shot on the near post, but Horwitz made a point-blank stop. On the ensuing corner, Downer put another hard shot on goal only to have it punched over the frame by the Amherst keeper.

The Warriors would finally pad their lead after Downer was taken down in the box with 21:30 to play. Merheb lined up for the penalty kick and took advantage of the opportunity, giving the visitors a 2-0 advantage.

Amherst responded four minutes later when Cooper scored her third goal of the season with 17:14 showing on the clock. Kyla Woodhouse ’11 (Topsham, ME) played the ball up the left wing to Amanda Brisco ’14 (Houston, TX), who separated herself from a defender and sent a cross to Cooper. The sophomore forward needed only one touch to beat Pagnozzi on the far post, making it a 2-1 game.

The Jeffs nearly tied things up less than two minutes later on a free kick. Kochanek played a beautiful ball to the far post from 40 yards away, but Cooper’s one-timer went just over the goal. That would be the final significant threat from either team, as the Warriors kept their undefeated streak alive.

Eastern Connecticut held a 16-11 advantage in shots (11-4 in the second half) and a 7-6 edge in corners. Horwitz made six saves for the Lord Jeffs, while Pagnozzi stopped three shots to improve to 9-0.

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Saturday, Oct. 16, when they host Colby College at noon.