Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's soccer team defeated visiting Mitchell College, 2-1, in their New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) opener at Leary Field Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Blazers improve to 2-6 overall and 1-0 in the NECC, while the Mariners dip to 1-4-1 on the season and 0-1 in conference action.
After a scoreless first half of action, the Mariners broke the scoreless tie in the 63rd minute as sophomore Nicholas Ghirardi (Salem, Conn.) tracked a long ball down the sideline and launched a cross to the front of the net, where junior Andrew Storton (Oxford, England) volleyed but Elms freshman goalkeeper AJ Oliviera (Beacon Falls, Conn.) denied the initial attempt, but Storton tucked in the rebound to give Mitchell a 1-0 lead.
With less than 10 minutes to play, the Blazers evened the score as sophomore Babba Jaden (Clarkston, Ga.) found a loose ball in traffic and ripped a shot through the Mariner defense and past sophomore keeper Seth Strader (Preston, Conn.) to knot the score at 1-1. Less than four minutes later, Jaden provided the difference-maker as he pursued a long ball down the sideline, gained control and raced to the goal line. The Mitchell defense challenged Jaden towards the goal line, forcing a tough-angle shot, which ricocheted off the inside of the far post and into the net to send the Blazers to the 2-1 victory.
The Mariners outshot the Blazers, 22-14, during the contest. Oliviera made a match-high seven saves, while Strader stopped five shots in the loss.
The Blazers will look to remain in the win column when they host Worcester State in non-conference action Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The Mariners travel to the Coast Guard Academy for a non-conference battle Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.