WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph soccer team fell to the Johnson & Wales Wildcats 2-0 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference action at home on Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats netted a pair of second half goals to hand the Blue Jays the loss. With the setback the Blue Jays slide to 5-6 overall and 3-3 in GNAC play, while the Wildcats improve to 8-2-3 overall and 4-0-2 in the conference.
The Wildcats controlled the majority of play in the first half, outshooting the Blue Jays 6-0, and also held a significant 7-0 edge in corner kicks. However, USJ's defense stood tall and denied all of the visitors' chances. Freshman net minder Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) posted three saves in the first period.
Johnson & Wales had three quality chances to score before the break. The first came after the Wildcats earned their sixth corner kick of the half and sophomore Christina Schneider (Walden, NY/Valley Central) launched a terrific service into the box that found the foot of freshman Molly McCormack (Livingston, NJ/Livingston) whose shot attempt skated just left of the far post in the 23rd minute.
The visitors then appeared to break through several minutes later when sophomore Deja Hursey (Columbia, MD/Glenelg) put one past Ricci, but it was negated due to an offside call. Their last chance of the half came in the 35th minute on a point blank shot from junior Gabriella Weithofer (East Longmeadow, MA/East Longmeadow), but Ricci made a terrific sprawling save to keep JWU off the board.
Johnson & Wales kept up the pressure to open up the second half and created the first opportunity with a shot on goal from Hursey, but Ricci once again came up with a clutch stop. USJ would get the next crack at it though and it nearly resulted in them taking the lead. Junior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, CT/Watertown) received a through ball and snuck behind the back four defenders of JWU. She sprinted down the right side and sent a curling shot on frame, but it caromed off the cross bar to keep the score deadlocked.
JWU would eventually break through though in the 61st minute and it would stand as the game-winning goal. Junior Kyra Selner (Sterling, VA/Dominion) drove down the left side and sent a cross into the box. Ricci got a hand on it, but it deflected right to freshman Molly McCormack (Livingston, NJ/Livingston) who would finish into a wide open net for her third goal of the season.
The Wildcats then doubled their lead just 45 seconds later to seal the victory. After assisting on the first goal, Selner danced along the right side of the field before sneaking inside the box and curling a shot past Ricci at the 60:47 mark.
The Blue Jays would pick up their play after the goals looking for an answer, including a pair of quality opportunities from junior Shelby Tallman (Colchester, CT/Bacon Academy), but both of her attempts sailed just wide and JWU would hold on for the win.
USJ rebounded and outshot the Wildcats 8-7 in the second half, but in total were outshot 13-8 in the match. JWU held a 12-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Ricci finished with six saves between the pipes for the Blue and Gold, but suffered the loss and is now 4-5 on the season. Freshman Collen Lynch (New Milford, CT/New Milford) made four stops in net for JWU in the victory and improves her record to 8-1-3 on the year.
The USJ soccer team will look to bounce back when they return to action next on Saturday, Oct. 8 at home against GNAC rival Saint Joe's (Me.). Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. on the USJ Soccer Field.