EAST BOSTON, Mass. – Freshman goalkeeper Anes Gadun (Clinton, Conn.) made a career-high 13 saves as the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's soccer team and the Suffolk University Rams played to a 0-0, double-overtime draw in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match on Saturday afternoon at James A. Sartori Field at East Boston Memorial Park. With the tie in the first-ever meeting between USJ and Suffolk, the Blue Jays move to 5-1-1 overall and 2-1-1 in the GNAC in their inaugural season, while the Rams move to 2-5-1 and 2-2-1. The USJ men's soccer team will be back in action next on Wednesday at Hampshire College beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Suffolk controlled much of the possession in the first frame and saw three good chances on target. The best came off Gabriel Perez's (Ecuador) cleat as the first-year sent a bullet from the left 35-yard line towards the upper right corner. However, Gadun robbed the rookie of his first collegiate goal to keep Suffolk off the scoreboard in the 29th minute.
Gadun's gloves continued to pick up every ball sent in his direction for the remainder of the first half to send the conference foes into the locker rooms scoreless. The rookie entered the locker room with six saves over the opening 45 minutes of action.
Suffolk commanded the majority of the opening possession of the second stanza also, but it was the Blue Jays that had more opportunities over the first 20 minutes with a pair of shots on target. Suffolk's first-year keeper, Tom Bennett (Minnetonka, Minn.) would be tested this time, but he stood tall between the pipes for the Rams and kept zeros on the scoreboard.
As the clock ticked towards the 75-minute mark, Tyler Mello (Pembroke, Mass.) went on a breakaway thanks to a go-ahead pass from freshman Leonardo Acosta (Miami, Fla.) to create the next good opportunity. The sophomore was tackled by a pair of USJ players and the ref whistled a foul to set-up a free-kick, which Jack O'Connor (Scituate, Mass.) took. The sophomore defender's shot attempt hit the bottom of the crossbar and fell just outside the goal line as the 0-0 contest remained.
USJ saw a huge chance with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation as freshman Daniel Castro (Willimantic, Conn.) had a wide-open attempt. However, Bennett swooped in from the far left to keep the visitors quiet.
As time dwindled down in regulation, Suffolk continued to pepper Gadun with multiple attempts. He played bigger than his 6-foot-0 frame though to force the first extra session.
In the first overtime, neither team really had a chance until the final few minutes. The Rams defense kicked the ball out of harm's way with Bennett on the ground when USJ threatened to strike and Gadun made a split, kick-save on a shot attempt from senior Jordan Casey (East Hampton, Conn.) to push the second extra session.
Suffolk's momentum carried over into the final frame with the hosts taking 80 percent of the five attempts before the final whistle blew. The Rams saw two great opportunities to potentially escape with a last-minute victory. The first came by Casey who put the only shot in the second extra session on target in the opening five minutes and Mello had an opportunity to convert the rebound, but his shot went just wide on the right. Later, off a corner, a header by Perez looked like it found its way into the net, but once again Gadun was there to pick up the pieces and preserve his second career shutout.
USJ's only attempt of late came with less than a minute left to play when freshman Christian LaBella's (Wethersfield, Conn.) shot flew well over the crossbar as the conference contest ended in a scoreless stalemate.
Gadun stood on his head, saving all 13 of the Rams' shots on goal, to move to 5-1-1 overall on the season, while Bennett turned aside all six of the shots on goal that he faced.
Suffolk nearly doubled USJ in shots, 29-12, and the Rams had a 13-6 lead in shots on goal, while the Rams also held the advantage in corners, 13-3.
The USJ men's soccer team will be back in action next on Saturday on the road in another GNAC battle versus Suffolk. The Blue Jays and Rams are scheduled to kickoff at 12:00 p.m.