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Blue Jays, Valiants Draw in Soccer Season Opener

Blue Jays, Valiants Draw in Soccer Season Opener

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph soccer team played to a 1-1 double overtime draw with the Manhattanville College Valiants in their season opener on Friday afternoon at home on the USJ Soccer Field. Junior Amanda Ghent (Portland, Conn.) found the back of the net in the 52nd minute for the equalizing goal for the Blue Jays. USJ and Manhattanville both move to 0-0-1 on the season after the draw. USJ will return back to the pitch next at home on Sunday when they host Dean College at noon.

The first half opened up with both teams equally sharing possession through the first 15 minutes of action. The first quality scoring chance appeared for Manhattanville in the 19th minute after they were awarded a free kick opportunity following a USJ handball just outside the 18-yard box. Freshman Ashley Pacheco (Throggs neck, N.Y.) took the free kick for the Valiants, but her attempt sailed wide right of frame.

The opportunity seemed to spark the visitors as they began to pick up their intensity and controlled more of the possession. It would lead to the first goal of the game at the 33:08 mark. Following a foul by USJ, the Valiants were awarded another free kick in nearly the same exact spot where the handball was called and this time they were able to drive a shot into the back of the net. Freshman Jess Roman (Weston, Fla.) took the opportunity and curled a perfectly placed shot into the top-right corner of the goal to put the Valiants ahead 1-0.

Manhattanville kept up the pressure to close the first half and nearly pushed its lead to 2-0 a few minutes later in the 41st minute. Junior Dany Swidler (San Diego, Calif.) played a long ball that was run down by sophomore Samira Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) which led to a breakaway opportunity, but Davis' one-touch shot was deflected and cleared by USJ's sophomore goalkeeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.). Manhattanville took the 1-0 lead into the break with a slight 9-6 edge in total shots.

The Blue Jays would rebound to open the second half. Following a minor scoring chance by the Valiants, USJ used a brilliant counter attack to push the ball back into its offensive end. Junior Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) corralled a clear by the USJ defense and drove up the right side to eventually lead to a Blue Jay throw-in near the far corner flag. The throw-in was sent to senior Nicole Aquillo (Hebron, Conn.) by the endline who played back to a charging Ghent to connect for a strike across net that beat the Valiants goalkeeper in the bottom-left corner to knot the game at the 51:35 mark, 1-1.

Each team recorded one more quality scoring chance throughout the remainder of regulation and two overtime periods. With just under 10 minutes to play in regulation, a through ball found Aquillo just inside the box, but her curling shot was handled by Manhattanville's sophomore goalie Bella Beltrami (Monroe, N.Y.). The Valiants opportunity came with just under five minutes left in regulation and from junior Ashley Heis (Carmel, N.Y.), but her right-footed blast missed the target wide and to the left.

Manhattanville finished with a slight edge in total shots, 20-15, but the Blue Jays held the advantage in shots on goal, 9-7. Beltrami finished with eight saves for the Valiants, while Ricci posted six stops for USJ across 110 minutes of play.

USJ returns back to the pitch next on Sunday when they host Dean College on the USJ Soccer Field at 12 noon. Manhattanville plays at Drew University next on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.