NEW LONDON, Conn.-Sophomore Lukas Benedetto recorded his third goal of the season and the Coast Guard men's soccer team picked up their first win of the season New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference play with a 3-0 victory over Clark. With the win, Coast Guard improves to 4-3-1 (1-1-0 NEWMAC) while Clark falls to 2-6-1 (0-2-0 NEWMAC).
Coast Guard dominated possession in the opening half, holding a 17-2 advantage in shots (9-1 on goal) while registering three corners to Clark's none. The first good scoring chance of the match came in the eighth minute when a 30-yard shot from sophomore Alexander Lane brought the crowd to their feet, but the attempt just under the crossbar was saved by freshman Alistair Richards.
The Bears had another good opportunity in the 30th minute when Benedetto delivered a cross to senior John Rendon whose header went wide. Benedetto was finally able to break through on his own in the 39th minute. After settling a pass from Lane in the box, he beat Richards to the far side off the inside of the goal post for a 1-0 advantage.
Senior Matt Epperly doubled the Coast Guard lead with his goal in the 52nd minute. Following a failed cross attempt he was able to collect the ball off the defender's feet and beat Richards to the far side for the 2-0 edge.
Just a few minutes later, in the 57th minute, Kyle Phillips nearly iced the game completely with a shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Richards was able to deflect it over the crossbar for the Cougars to give them at least a chance.
Junior goalkeeper Richie Burns only had to make two saves for the Bears to preserve his fourth shutout of the season while improving his record to 4-2-1. One of his saves was spectacular, however. Following a foul in the 75th minute, senior Josh Demers let fly with a free kick from about 22 yards out and Burns, at full extension and diving to his right, was able to deflect the ball out of bounds to keep the 2-0 lead.
The game was iced in the 77th minute when Cougars freshman Michael Spanos misplayed a cross for an own goal and a 3-0 Coast Guard advantage.
The final shot totals were 23 for Coast Guard and five for Clark, including a 14-2 advantage in shots on goal, while the Bears had a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks as well.
The three goals scored in the match are the most for the Bears since a 3-0 season-opening victory over Southern Maine on August 30th. The victory was the 100th of Chris Parsons' career at the Academy.
Coach Parsons was very pleased with the team's performance, saying, "it was good to get that first NEWMAC win, gets us back on track after three tough losses." He continued by saying, "it's always big to be able to pick up three points at home in a league game, especially on Parent's Weekend to be able to perform as well as we did, get the win, and get a lot of kids playing time."
Moving forward, Coast Guard hopes to be able to take momentum from their performance with Coach Parsons saying, "hopefully we can use this game as a starting point to string a few wins together."
Coast Guard will return to action on Wednesday, October 2nd when they host Mitchell College in a non-conference match-up at 7:00 pm.