Barney records third shutout in last four starts in 2-0 Little East  victory


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Sophomore keeper Jay Barney (MANSFIELD) made four first-half saves to record his third shutout in the last four starts and seniors Fotis Anastasious (COLCHESTER) and Jeff Mitchell (ENFIELD) each scored goals in their final match as the Eastern Connecticut State University men’s soccer team downed Rhode Island College, 2-0 Saturday in its  season finale in Little East Conference play.


Despite the win, Eastern (8-7-1, 4-3-0 little east) finishes one point shy of the fourth and final conference playoff berth. Plymouth State University and Western Connecticut State University, both 4-2-1,  finish in a tie for third place in the final conference standings with 13 points. The Warriors finish with 12 points.


The loss in the regular-season and conference finale spoils a perfect season in conference play for Rhode Island (9-5-3, 4-1-2 little east), which finishes with 14 points and will be seeded second in the conference playoffs, which get underway with semifinal-round games Wednsday. Keene State College nailed down its third straight regular-season title Saturday with a 3-0 win over visiting Massachusetts Boston. Rhode Island will host third-seeded Plymouth and Keene will host fourth-seeded Western Wednesday. The final is scheduled for Saturday at noon at the site of the highest remaining seed.


Barney, who missed eight straight starts early this year with a shoulder injury, recorded his second straight shutout and third in his last four matches of the year. He shows a final goals-against average of 0.88 and save percentage of .826.


Junior forward Elvis Perndoj (LEZHA, ALBANIA) assisted on both Eastern goals with came 15 minutes apart. Anastasiou, a first-year player, scored his team-high seventh goal of the year with a short blast in the box in the 59th minute which carried over the head of Rhode Island sophomore keeper Jadon Neves and under the crossbar. Fifteen minutes later, Mitchell put the game out of reach with his first goal of the year, set up when junior back Derek Miles (NEWTOWN) got the ball in the box to Perndoj. Perndoj slid it quickly on the left wing to Mitchell, whose left-footed drive carried across the goal mouth and inside the far right post. In his first season, Perndoj finishes as the team leader with seven assists and shares the lead with Anastasiou with 15 points.


The Eastern defense limited Rhode Island senior forward Kyle Teixeira to just three shots. Teixeira, the LEC leader with 17 goals and 42 points, is a two-time conference Offensive Player-of-the-Year. Teixeira’s first shot of the match – a header on a pass from sophomore midfielder Julian Montoya -- nearly gave the visitors a lead in the 14th minute --  but Barney timed his leap perfectly and hauled it in.


With the final win, Eastern concludes with a winning record for the first time since 1996, when it finished 8-7-3.


Eastern Conn. 2, Rhode Island College 0


Rhode Island (9-5-3, 4-1-2 little east)                0              0              --             0

Eastern Conn. (8-7-1, 4-3-0 little east)               0              2              --             2


                Scoring: Fotis Anastasiou (Elvis Perndoj) 58:18; Jeff Mitchell (Derek Miles, Perndoj) 73:12.

                Shots: R-7, E-8; Saves: R-Jadon Neves 3, E-Jay Barney 4.

                Corner kicks: R-5, E-2.