ST. DAVID'S, Pa. - Franklin & Marshall's No. 5 men's soccer team suffered its first loss of 2018 with a 1-0 setback against Eastern on Tuesday afternoon.
The non-conference road tilt brought the Diplomats' record to 8-1-2 on the year while the Eagles improved to 7-2-1.
Neither team found pay dirt in the opening stanza. F&M saw its best chance of the first half occur in the 24th minute when a long cross to the far post found the foot of Jim Connolly, who sent a high attempt on goal that careened off the crossbar and out of play.
Following the first 45 minutes of play, the Eagles held a narrow 8-6 edge in shots, while corners favored the Diplomats at 5-3.
Eastern struck in the 64th minute with a Julio Ardon header from close range to put the Eagles ahead by a 1-0 tally. Trailing late, F&M ramped up the pressure in the final minutes, maintaining possession in the Diplomats' offensive third.
With seven minutes remaining, a long throw-in from the far side reached the box and led to an opportunity in front, but Eastern's backline got in front of a Cole Niggeman shot to block his attempt.
The Eagles had a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach with 1:30 remaining off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box but sailed the chance high of the crossbar.
One final chance remained for the Diplomats with under 30 seconds left on the clock as F&M stormed up the field and looked to capitalize on a throw-in attempt in its offensive third. The toss into the box bounced around and never found the foot of a Diplomat striker as Eastern cleared and managed to narrowly escape with the win.
The overall shot count belonged to F&M by a 16-13 margin thanks to a 10-5 advantage in the second half. Corners also favored the Diplomats at 11-5 with a 6-2 edge in the final period.
Goalkeeper Christopher Amoruso (5-1-2) received the loss with a three-save effort. Anthony Hitchcock (3-0-1) secured the Eastern shutout with two saves in 90 minutes of competition.
F&M makes a return to Centennial Conference (CC) play on Saturday when the Diplomats host Ursinus at 3:00 p.m.