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Eastern Connecticut Upsets Western Connecticut In Little East Tournament

Eastern Connecticut Upsets Western Connecticut In Little East Tournament

DANBURY, Conn. -- Freshman forward Hailey Lehning (Woodbury, Conn.) scored the game's lone goal in the 18th minute and Eastern Connecticut State University held on to defeat Western Connecticut State University, 1-0, in the first round of the Little East Conference playoffs at the Westside Athletic Complex Tuesday night.

By avenging a loss by the same score six weeks ago on the same field to fourth-seeded Western (10-10-1), fifth-seeded Eastern (9-8-1) advances to the playoff semifinals Thursday at 2 p.m. against top seed and defending champion Massachusetts Boston. During the regular season, Eastern was the only conference team to defeat UMass Boston, that victory coming a month ago by a score of 1-0 at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

Excluding Western's 1-0 win over Eastern during the regular season, the teams had combined to play 16 matches this year decided by 1-0, Eastern winning four of nine and Western just one of seven (Western ended its season losing four straight 1-0 decisions).

Lehning received a pass from senior midfielder Tamar Merheb (Bethel, Conn.) from about 15 yards outside of the box and lightly re-directed the ball toward the Colonials' goal. Western freshman keeper Alison Rettenmeir ventured out to the action and was not able to retreat as Lehning's shot trickled across the line.

Third-seeded and host UMass Dartmouth defeated sixth-seeded Southern Maine, 2-1 in the league's other first-round match Tuesday afternoon. The Corsairs will travel to second-seeded Keene State College Thursday at 6 p.m. Like UMass Boston, Keene drew a first-round bye.

The semifinal winners will meet at the highest remaining seed Saturday at noon.

Eastern freshman keeper Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) earned her fifth win in goal by making four saves to record her fifth shutout in 11 starts.

(Eastern Connecticut sports information)