NORTON, Mass. - Wheaton College ran its unbeaten streak to four games Wednesday afternoon against Plymouth State University, as the Lyons blanked the Panthers, 2-0 in non-conference men's soccer action at Keefe Field.
Ranked fifth in New England with a 7-1-1 record, Wheaton avenged last year's 2-0 loss to the Panthers in Plymouth. Suffering their first setback in three games, the seventh-ranked Panthers fall to 5-2 overall. The Lyons improved their all-time record against Plymouth to 7-5-1 in a series that dates back to 1993.
Senior forwards Andrew Hench (Marblehead, Mass.) and Matt Ristuccia (Newton, Mass.) led Wheaton's offensive charge in the opening half. On a pass from Ristuccia, Hench ricocheted his shot off the right post with 32 minutes to play. Just two minutes later, Ristuccia's shot nailed the crossbar, leaving the game scoreless for the better part of the stanza.
The Lyons built their 2-0 lead in the final five minutes of play, starting with a goal from Hench, who received a through ball from freshman Ian Walker (Marblehead, Mass.). After getting to the ball just before PSU senior goalkeeper Dan Custance (Holderness, N.H.), Hench used the outside of his right foot to push the ball past Custance and into the right corner of the net.
Freshman Reed Hollett (Bedford, Nova Scotia) made it a 2-0 game in the 45th minute. Classmate Colin Igoe (Weston, Mass.) distributed his pass to Hollett on the right side of the box, where the first-year midfielder was able to direct his shot into the bottom left corner.
The hosts piled on additional scoring chances with 11 shots in the second half, but Custance kept the Panthers in striking distance with a handful of impressive saves. Wheaton sophomore goalie Matt Pachniuk (Newtown, Conn.) finished with one stop to collect the shutout, while Custance accounted for seven saves. The Lyons held a 17-4 shot advantage and 6-3 edge in corner kicks.
After two straight non-conference games, the Lyons will return to New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). PSU returns home to host UMass Boston on Saturday in a Little East Conference contest (3:00 p.m.).
(Courtesy Wheaton Sports Information)
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