WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State junior midfielder Jason Haji (Shrewsbury, Mass.) scored just eight minutes into the match, and Owls goalkeeper Tyler Diotlevi (Ludlow, Mass.) made 10 saves to make it stand up as the Owls held off Castleton State, 1-0 in a non-conference game at Alumni Field on Tuesday afternoon.
The Owls' goal was created when Paul Soucy (Acushnet, Mass./Taunton) attacked from the right side. His low shot to the far post was saved as Spartans goalkeeper Alex Fernald (Phippsburg, Me./Morse) came off his line to make a diving stop, but the rebound deflected towards the left post as Shane Cervone (West Springfield) and Haji crashed the back side, and Haji won the footrace to the ball to find the back of the net for the lead.
The game was a back and forth battle throughout. Castleton held an 18-14 edge in total shots and a 10-6 margin in shots on goal. Diotalevi made all the plays in the back, perhaps the best saving a near point blank shot from Castleton's Tim Stewart (Dorset, Vt./Burr and Burton) in the closing minutes, as he volleyed a hard cross on net but right to Diotalevi.
The Spartans created some drama in the final minutes of play, as they were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area that resulted in a shot that sailed high, then in the last minute pushed Fernald up front for a potential header attempt in the closing seconds after Castleton earned a free kick 35 yards out on the left side.
Diotalevi finished with 10 saves to post his second shutout of the season. Fernald finished with five stops for the Spartans.
Westfield improved to 3-7 on the season with the win, while Castleton slips to 3-9 overall.
Westfield State will be back in action on Saturday, with a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference match at Framingham State, set for a noon kickoff.