WILLIMANTIC, Conn.— Sophomore Matt Vidal (New Bedford, Mass.) netted the lone goal of the match in the 88th minute to lift the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth a 1-0 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University this afternoon in a NCAA Division III men's soccer match on Nevers Field.
UMass Dartmouth (6-9-1, 2-3-1 LEC) remain alive in the hunt for the fourth and final spot in the Little East Conference Championship field, moving within three points of Rhode Island College. The Corsairs have defeated the Warriors (9-4-3, 4-2) in two straight and three of their past four regular-season meetings.
The Corsairs generated the game-winning scoring opportunity, when a shot by senior Alex Machado (New Bedford, Mass.) pierced the middle of the Eastern defense and carried all the way to the keeper. Vidal gathered the rebound by the left post, and sent his fourth shot of the game inside the far, lower corner. It was his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
UMass Dartmouth had a number of mid-to-low range shots in the first half. Sophomore goalkeeper Greg Walton (Brunswick, Maine) dove to the right post to keep the game scoreless, denying junior back Karim Fernandes (New Bedford, Mass.). Midway through the first frame, Vidal unloaded a well-struck bicycle kick, which sailed over the cross bar.
Sixteen minutes in the second stanza, sophomore Luis Carrenza (New Bedford, Mass.) – who authored his second shutout – made his only save of the half on sophomore forward Konnor Scarponi's (Brunswick, Maine) well-placed header off a serve from freshman forward Sean Conway (Southington, Conn.).
Eastern's best opportunity came three minutes later on a free kick by Scarponi, where freshman back Xavier Doran's (Hebron, Conn.) header along the left post skimmed across the cross bar and out of play. With nine minutes remaining in regulation, freshman midfielder Adam Traxler's (Newburyport, Mass.) one-touch off a pass from sophomore forward Alejandro Tobon (West Hartford, Conn.) carried inches wide of the post.
Cazzenza made two stops to earn the win, while Walton turned aside four of the five attempts he faced.
UMass Dartmouth held a 10-7 lead in shots, while Eastern owned a 9-4 advantage in corner kicks.
The Corsairs will return to action at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28, when UMass Dartmouth hosts Suffolk University. Prior to the start of the match, the Corsairs will honor their five seniors.