Eastern Tops Elizabethtown in MAC Opener

ST. DAVIDS, Pa.- This afternoon's MAC opener against Elizabethtown was a big game for Eastern. The Eagles (2-3, 1-0 MAC) had dropped three straight and were looking to make a mark in the league against the 2010 regular season champions.

Playing their first game in new gray uniforms, the Eagles controlled the ground ball game and earned a decisive 7-4 win. Matt Soldano scored three times in the third period to help the Eagles earn the victory.

The visiting Blue Jays opened the scoring on a Derek Kline shot from on the crease in the fourth minute of play. Chris Farrar answered with his first of two goals on a nice dodge from behind the crease. The sophomore attack man lost his footing on the wet turf but still managed to skid a low shot under the goalie from 11 yards out.

The Eagles then took advantage of an extended period of possession for a go ahead goal from Sean Farmer. Farmer made a diving catch of a Zac Ivy pass on the back side of the crease and popped in his third of the year.

The game slowed down through the second period and Kline scored his second of the day five minutes in to draw the visitors level. Though neither team scored the rest of the half, the momentum of the game seemed to shift toward Eastern.

"We had a lot of good energy in the first half," said Head Coach Brandon Childs, "I didn't like halftime because it stopped the rhythm of the game. We challenged them to keep that energy, which they did."

The game, which saw only 17 shots in the first half, went wide open for the last ten minutes of the third period. The Eagles thrived in the chaos of the more unsettled game. Soldano put the Eagles up with a solo effort on the crease, and then doubled the lead three minutes later on shifty dodging run up the middle.

While A.J. Ryan was dominant at the face-off dot (71%) through the day, the sophomore specialist slipped and fell on the ensuing face-off, and the Blue Jays took advantage of the possession for a Derek Neiheiser goal. Ryan then took off the next face-off and Elizabethtown again capitalized with a Shawn Corcoran goal.

Ryan then won five of the next six face-offs to help the Eagles to seize control of the contest.

"I think that's what A.J. winning the face-offs does " Childs related, "it brings the energy back to us. They tied it up at 4-4 and we won the first fac-eoff after the game was tied. That brought the momentum back." Ryan's roll in face-off play is critical, but he also pointed to the efforts of his wings Matt Mandia and Brendan Stouber.

"I focus on what I need to do, where my hands are gonna be and the timing of the whistle." he said, "After a couple wins, their wingers start to pressure a little more. When we were in trouble, we helped each other instead of relying on just one person." Childs also complimented the work rate of his players on the wings and attributed the success of his team on the day to winning the ground ball battle and getting more possessions.

Ron Johnson finished a David Darling pass with four minutes left in the period to put the Eagles up 5-4, and Soldano completed his hat trick with a high hard shot after another dodge to the middle. Farrar finished the scoring with a roll on the crease in the waning seconds of the period.

"Offensively, we just started to click," Soldano said, "running the offense all the way through and keeping possession of the ball. I just wanted us to win the face-offs so we could get back down and possess." The sophomore midfielder also pointed to the work of his teammates in winning back possession.

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