WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's soccer team scored two first-half goals and held off Regis (Mass.) in the second half to defeat the visiting Pride, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at home at the USJ Soccer Field. The win marks the first Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) victory for the Blue Jays in program history as they improve to 4-1-0 overall and 1-1-0 in the league in their inaugural season. The Pride fall to 3-2-0 and 1-2-0 with the setback. The USJ men's soccer team returns back to the pitch next on Wednesday for another GNAC showdown, this time on the road versus the Anna Maria College Amcats beginning at 4:00 p.m.
The Blue Jays wasted little time getting on the board finding the back of the net just 4:05 into the contest. Following a Pride foul just outside of the penalty area, left-footed freshman Hayden Burbank (Southington, Conn.) ripped a strike on frame off the free-kick opportunity. Regis' senior keeper Jesse Bonilla (Ramona, Calif.) made a nice sprawling save on the sinking shot, but the rebound trickled right to a crashing Daniel Castro (Willimantic, Conn.) and the freshman tapped it into the empty net for his team-leading and GNAC-tying fifth goal of the season to put USJ up early, 1-0.
Saint Joseph would extend its lead to 2-0 in the 26th minute. Nice combination midfield play from freshman Marcello Delvalle (Bristol, Conn.) and classmate DeAnte Anderson (Bloomfield, Conn.) carried the ball deep into the visitors' territory before Anderson found Castro with a through ball behind the Pride's back four. Castro nearly netted his second marker of the game firing a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar, but the rebound caromed out to Anderson who chested it down and played freshman Glaymer Cardona (Milford, Conn.) who flicked it into the net for his first career goal and built the 2-0 advantage heading into halftime.
The Pride would respond well though following the halftime intermission gaining more possession and control of the game in the beginning minutes of the second half. They would then break through in the 48th minute, just 2:52 into the resumption of play in the second period. Regis' senior forward, Brendan Plasczynski (Bristol, Conn.), weaved his way up the middle of the field making a few USJ defenders miss and chipped a shot with his right foot over USJ freshman keeper Anes Gadun (Clinton, Conn.) and into the back of the net to cut their deficit in half.
The remainder of the game was played mainly in the middle of the field with both teams fighting for the next goal. Regis created a couple opportunities to find the equalizer, but Gadun came up big with three second-half saves, including one on a header shot with under three minutes left in regulation, to preserve the 2-1 USJ victory.
The Pride owned a slight advantage in total shots, 10-6, including a 7-5 edge in shots on goal, while USJ and Regis each generated three corner kicks apiece.
Gadun finished with six saves between the pipes for the Blue Jays and improves his record to 4-1-0 on the season, while Bonilla drops to 3-2-0 with the loss in goal for Regis. He finished with three stops.
The USJ men's soccer team returns back to the pitch next for a GNAC battle against Anna Maria College on Wednesday at AMCAT Field. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m.