MANSFIELD, Conn. – Little East Conference scoring leader Patrick Agyemang (East Hartford) set the tone by scoring on Eastern Connecticut State University's first possession 65 seconds into the match and the Warriors went on to a 4-0 men's soccer victory over Keene State College Saturday afternoon at Rick McCarthy Field.
Ranked eighth in New England, Eastern (11-2-0 LEC) scored on two of its three first-half shots, then tacked on two insurance goals in a span of 14 minutes early in the second half to remain perfect (6-0-0) at home this year.
The four-goal differential in a loss was Keene's (8-5-0, 2-2-0 LEC) widest in 51 games – since a 5-1 setback at nationally-ranked Tufts University in the 15th match of the 2016 season.
With the win, Eastern maintains a share of the top spot in the conference with three LEC regular-season games remaining.
Keene was the only conference team to defeat Eastern last year (1-0 at Keene), but the Warriors went on to their seventh regular-season title under head coach Greg DeVito, finishing a game up on the Owls.
The four-goal differential was also the largest in the series since the Owls blanked host Eastern, 5-0, in 2003. Eastern had not scored four goals against Keene since the first match of this 44-game series, in 1967, in a 4-0 win.
Agyemang scored his 14th and 15 goals of the season to bookend the win, and senior Griffin Luczek (Lee, NH) and freshman Andres Mayuri (West Hartford) filled in with their fourth and sixth goals of the season, respectively.
Luczek made it 2-0 midway through the first half when he took a short past from the left by sophomore Will Toomey (Willington) and beat Keene sophomore keeper Anthony Pasciuto (Abington, MA) from the right side when he drove the ball inside the far left post. Agyemang's hard shot that was saved by Keene's second-half keeper Gavin Fitzpatrick (Manchester, NH) from point-blank range set up Mayuri's got that made it 3-0 two minutes into the second half.
Agyemang, who has scored two or more goals four times this year, provided Eastern with early momentum. After junior keeper Kyle Boutot (Tolland) made an easy save on Keene's first shot in the opening minute, Eastern countered at the other end: Agyemang slid a shot from near the end line on the left side across the box and inside the far right post that made it 1-0 just 1:05 into action.
Less than two minutes after Agyemang's opening goal, Keene threatened, but Eastern freshman defender Jared Caroline (South Windsor) reached in to left-foot a Keene cross over the goal line. Boutot then came off his line to punch out Keene junior Emmanuel Smith's (Concord, NH) resulting corner kick.
Trailing 2-0, the Owls' had an opportunity to slice the deficit in half after Boutot was flagged for a dangerous play attempting to break up a Keene bid in the box. With Boutot diving to his right, however, Smith's penalty kick sailed well over the crossbar.
Eastern had at least two chances to add to its 2-0 lead late in the first half, but Pasciuto dove on his goal line to break up a bid by Luczek following senior Nick Starkowski's (Marlborough) free kick with 15 minutes left in the half. Three minutes later, Luczek collected a loose ball in the box, but his left-footer from the left side carried over the net.
After Mayuri's goal made it 3-0 in the 48th minute, both teams had opportunities two minutes apart. Keene freshman James McCully's (Eastham, MA) header off Smith's free kick sailed over the cross bar, and Fitzpatrick made consecutive saves on shots from in close by Agyemang and on Luczek's follow-up.
Eastern outshot Keene, 15-10 and the Owls held a 5-3 edge in corner kicks.
Boutot made three saves before junior Jack VanRooyen (Wayland, MA) stopped one shot over the final 7:27 to give Eastern its seventh shutout of the year. Pasciuto was credited with one save and Fitzpatrick four.
Keene brought a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) against Eastern into Saturday's game (both wins by 1-0) but the Warriors broke a stalement (5-5-5) against Keene under DeVito by moving ahead in the series.
Eastern visits 2018 LEC playoff champion Western Connecticut Wednesday at 6 p.m. In last year's playoffs, the Colonials defeated Eastern in the semifinals and Keene in the final, both by 2-1 scores at Rick McCarthy Field.