(Courtesy of Eastern Connecticut Sports Information)
MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Sophomore Brianna Curcio's (Southbury, Conn.) first goal of the season midway through the first half proved to be enough for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team to remain undefeated at home this year following a 1-0 Little East Conference victory over the University of Southern Maine Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
Making only her fourth start of the season, Curcio one-timed senior Nicole Leonard's (Rutherford, N.J.) corner kick past Southern Maine senior goalkeeper Katie Cobb (Lewiston, Maine) at the near post to break a scoreless tie in the 28th minute.
Freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks, Conn.), last week's conference Goalkeeper-of-the-Week, made two saves in recording her third shutout in five career starts.
With its fifth victory at home in as many contests this year, Eastern moves into a tie for fourth place in the conference standings. With three regular-season conference games left, Keene State College is unbeaten (4-0-0), with Western Connecticut and UMass Boston a game back at 3-1-0.
Curcio's third career goal was one of only a few real scoring threats generated by either squad. Leonard, who took over the team lead with her third assist, had space in the box four minutes into the second half, but couldn't give the Warriors an insurance goal as she one-timed a cross from senior Tamar Merheb (Bethel, Conn.) wide of the post.
Freshman Hailey Lehning (Woodbury, Conn.), who played only the first 16 minutes of the first half, returned in the second half and threatened 15 minutes later. Lehning received a pass from Kaitlyn Kennedy (Burlington, Conn.) on the end line and carried to goal, where she left-footed an uncontested shot from close range over the far post with 11 minutes left.
Southern Maine's best chance to tie the match came in the final minutes. Junior Nicole Bordeau (Sanford, Maine) carried a pass from sophomore CC Pelletier (West Newfield, Maine) on the right flank down to the end line, but her try from a bad angle sailed over the crossbar.
Southern Maine was held without a corner kick by the Eastern Connecticut defense and managed only five shots. Cobb was not called upon for a save.
The win is the 14th straight for Eastern (7-5-0; 2-2-0) over Southern Maine (4-8-1; 1-3-0) in this series.
Southern Maine hosts the University of New England on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.). Eastern hosts Trinity College Wednesday (7:00 p.m.).