Freshmen leads Owls to upset win over #13 Eastern Conn.
MANSFIELD, Conn. 9/26/09- The last time the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team hosted Keene State College, the Warriors recorded a penalty-kick shootout win to claim their first Little East Conference post-season tournament championship.
That was ancient news to Keene State freshmen Joe Senecal (Manchaug, MA) and Shawn Shand (Keene, NH), who each scored twice Saturday to lead the Owls to a 4-1 victory. The Keene win is its first away from its home field this season after three losses, and the loss is Eastern's first this year at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex after three wins and a tie.
Keene (5-3-0, 2-0-0 little east) remains undefeated against Eastern (5-2-1, 1-1 little east) all-time in conference regular-season play, improving to 10-0-3. Technically, the teams had tied the last four times they had met, with Eastern's penalty-kick shootout win in 2007 giving it the LEC crown but being recorded as a tie.
Keene State Coach Ron Butcher said the difference in the game was hard work. "I thought we out-worked and out-muscled them," he said. "We won every single 50-50 ball."
"It feels great to beat a top-ranked team," said Shand. "We came out to win."
With the score tied 1-1 early in the second half, Shand scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season on a 35-yard free kick that bounced in off the crossbar. Senecal made it 3-1 ten minutes later with his third goal of the year on his own rebound, and Shand rounded out the scoring in the 80th minute with his fifth goal.
Ranked second in New England and 13th nationally, Eastern trailed throughout the first half but finally gained the equalizer when sophomore back Aaron Smiles (Bedford, MA) scored his first career goal after nine career assists. Smiles delivered a free kick from outside the box into the upper right corner, beyond the dive of Keene senior keeper Peter Kersker (Ipswich, MA).
Senecal gave Keene the early momentum and forced the Warriors to play catch-up the rest of the half when he walked right through the Eastern box and carried the ball from left to right before sending a shot into the left corner of the net beyond Eastern sophomore keeper Carl Appel (West Windsor, NJ).
Kersker stopped 10 of Eastern's 11 shots on net to even his personal record at 3-3.
Keene State hosts Babson College on Wednesday.
(Courtesy ECSU Sports Information)