WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph soccer team remained unbeaten on the season after winning its fifth straight game by defeating the Mount Ida Mustangs, 3-1, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match on the USJ Soccer Field Wednesday afternoon. The victory improves the Blue Jays overall record to 5-0-1 and a perfect 4-0-0 in league play, while the Mustangs slide to 4-3 and 1-3.
The Blue Jays controlled much of the opening possession in the beginning of the first half, but couldn't create any early scoring chances. Despite the possession difference, Mount Ida threatened the majority of the time they had the ball on its offensive end.
Freshman Bailey Elliot (Tolland, Conn.) created the first scoring chance for either side at the 7:47 mark when she found herself inside the Blue Jays 18-yard box with just the keeper to beat, but her shot attempt sailed just wide to the right. A few minutes later the Mustangs drew a foul along the right wing deep in USJ territory and the free kick attempt found an unmarked Hailey Serino (Northwood, N.H.) near the far post, but her one-timer attempt was driven into the side netting out of play.
Mount Ida would finally break through though in the 22nd minute on the third goal of the season from Elliot to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Following a scrum inside the penalty area, Elliot was able to find some space and loft a shot with her right foot over the USJ keeper and into the back of the net.
The Blue Jays would pick back up the tempo and with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half senior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, Conn.) nearly knotted the game with a spinning left-footed strike, but the shot was handled by Mount Ida's sophomore keeper AnnaMarie Seiler (Biggeford, Maine) to keep USJ off the board.
That wouldn't last much longer though as the hosts would tie things up 1-1 heading into halftime on the seventh goal of the season from junior midfielder Amanda Ghent (Portland, Conn.). Junior Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) nearly tied it up with a rip off the side post and the rebound ricocheted across frame to a wide-open Ghent who finished to draw the game even.
USJ would carry the momentum over into the second half and dominate the majority of the final 45 minutes of action. Spezzano netted what would be the game-winner in the 68th minute to keep the Blue Jays unbeaten streak intact. After a Mount Ida corner kick, the Blue Jays strung together a brilliant counter attack with Skoly driving down the field and playing a through ball to a charging Spezzano behind the Mustangs back line. She took a couple touches and ripped a shot past the keeper into the lower left corner to put USJ up for good.
Saint Joseph would tack on an insurance goal a few moments later at the 72:46 mark on the second goal of the game from Ghent to account for the 3-1 final. Spezzano crossed in a ball from the right wing that found the head of Ghent as she finished perfectly into the bottom left corner of the goal.
USJ out shot Mount Ida 15-11 in the match, including a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal. The Mustangs held a slight edge in corner kicks, 4-3.
Sophomore keeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) improved to 5-0-1 between the pipes for the Blue Jays making four saves on the day. Seiler was dealt the loss for Mount Ida and also made four stops.
The Blue Jays will look to keep things rolling when they return back to the pitch next on Saturday in a tough GNAC match on the road at Johnson & Wales. Kickoff is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Mount Ida is also back in action on Saturday at home against GNAC foe Suffolk at 2:30 p.m.