WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – A four goal second half explosion by the Albertus Magnus Falcons dropped the University of Saint Joseph soccer team, 4-2, on the USJ Soccer Field in Great Northeast Athletic Conference action on Monday afternoon. With the loss the Blue Jays fall to 5-7-1 overall on the season and 3-4-1 in GNAC play. Albertus Magnus improves to 7-6-1 and 5-2-1 in the conference with the win.
The Blue Jays held a slight advantage in possession over the course of the first half and entered the intermission with a 10-5 advantage in shots, including a 5-2 edge in shots on goal. USJ created the first quality chance to score in the 12th minute. Following an Albertus foul, junior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, CT/Watertown) took a free kick from 30 yards out and her shot attempt sailed just over the cross bar.
The Falcons then nearly jumped out into the lead in the 23rd minute after a brilliant strike from sophomore Angelina Piccirillo (Naugatuck, CT/Naugatuck). She collected a loose ball from 25 yards out and ripped a curling shot on frame with her left foot, but it caromed off the top off the cross bar and the Blue Jays were able to successfully clear.
USJ would then breakthrough on the first goal of the season from junior Shelby Tallman (Colchester, CT/Bacon Academy) in the 32nd minute to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. After another Falcons foul, Spezzano took a free kick from almost exactly the same spot as 20 minutes prior. This time her shot was on goal and mishandled by the AMC goalkeeper inside the box. Amongst a scrum, Tallman was able to get a foot on it and poke it into the back of the net to give the Blue and Gold the lead.
The second half would prove to be a different story as Albertus Magnus really picked up the tempo and pressure against the Blue Jays. Just 1:12 into the second half of play, the Falcons would even the score at 1-1. Junior Amanda Montano (North Haven, CT/Cheshire Academy) collected a loose ball in the middle of the field, turned and sent a shot on goal with her left foot that rode the wind and beat USJ's freshman goalkeeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) into the top left corner.
Albertus Magnus struck again 12 minutes later on the second goal of the year from sophomore Kerrigan Loughman (Trumbull, CT/Trumbull) to take the lead 2-1. After the Falcons earned a free kick opportunity following a USJ foul, Loughman stepped up and drilled a perfect shot from 30 yards out that glanced off the bottom of the cross bar in the top right corner and into the back of the net.
The Blue Jays didn't quit though and fought back to tie the match, 2-2, just six minutes later. Freshman Leah Strycharz (Coventry, CT/Coventry) drove down the right side of the field and sent in a cross that found freshman Olivia Norton (Berlin, CT/Berlin). Norton then played a touch pass to sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, CT/Rockville) just inside the box and Skoly took care of the rest and tied the game with her team leading fifth goal of the season.
However, the Falcons created too many consistent opportunities in the second half and senior Taylor Rotella (Milford, CT/Jonathan Law) would lift the visitors to victory with a pair of goals to close out the game. Rotella netted the game-winner at the 71:14 mark off a corner kick by Loughman. Her quick shot snuck just over the head of USJ freshman goalkeeper Hannah Meister (Hampton, CT/Parish Hill) who came on in relief of Ricci in the 54th minute. Rotella would then seal the AMC win with an 83rd minute goal, good for her third marker of the season.
AMC outshot USJ 10-6 in the second half, including 6-2 in shots on goal. In total the Blue Jays held a slight 16-15 shot advantage, but the Falcons had an 8-7 edge in shots on goal. The visitors also had a significant 9-2 advantage in corner kicks in the match.
The USJ soccer team will look to rebound as they return to action next with a midweek non-conference tilt at Wesleyan on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. Albertus Magnus will next play at Johnson & Wales on Saturday at noon.