FARMINGTON, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team scored four goals in the second half to defeat the Albertus Magnus College Falcons, 4-0, on Wednesday afternoon in a key Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match on Kiki's Field at Miss Porter's School in Farmington. With the victory, the Blue Jays improve to 7-6-1 overall, 5-5-1 in the GNAC, and secure their 19th consecutive berth into the GNAC postseason tournament. The Falcons drop to 4-9-0 and 3-7-0 with the setback. USJ will be back in action next at home on Senior Day versus Lasell beginning at 12:00 p.m.
Neither team could find the back of the net over the opening 45 minutes of action. The Falcons generated the first good scoring chance of the match in the 27th minute after they earned their third corner kick in the early going. Senior Kerrigan Loughman (Trumbull, Conn.) sent in the service to the back post which found freshman Haley Andrews (Prospect, Conn.) unmarked, but her header attempt went right at USJ's junior keeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) who was able to make the quick-reaction save.
The Blue Jays picked up the tempo and would draw their first threat three minutes later. Graduate senior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, Conn.) tried to take a shot in traffic and her attempt caromed off an AMC defender right to senior Amanda Ghent (Portland, Conn.) who fired a strike from 25-yards out. However, her rip sailed just over the top right corner of the goal for a visitors' goal kick.
Then, at the 39:06 mark, Albertus Magnus drew a foul inside the penalty area resulting in a penalty kick for the visitors as they looked to get on the scoreboard first. Loughman stepped up to take the PK for the Falcons and delivered a blast on frame, but Ricci sprung from her line, got a glove on it, directed it off the crossbar, and pounced on the rebound for a spectacular save to keep things scoreless heading into halftime.
Saint Joseph organized nicely following the intermission and really dominated the second half of play and possession. They would finally brake through in the in the 56th minute on a penalty kick attempt of their own. Ghent got the nod for the Blue Jays and successfully converted her second PK of the season by blasting a shot past a diving Lexie Fenn (Oakville, Conn.) into the right side-netting at the 55:19 mark to put USJ up 1-0 and for what would wind up being the game-winner.
The goal sparked the Blue Jays' offense as they would tack on another goal just 2:37 later on a brilliant strike from freshman Ali O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.). With the ball deep in the AMC defensive zone, they attempted a clearance, but it bounced right to a charging O'Neil. She took a touch and fired a curling left-footed strike from just over 30-yards out over a sprawling Fenn and perfectly into the corner of the goal. The goal marked the first of O'Neill's career with the Blue Jays.
USJ would continue to control possession over the ensuing minutes and then put the game away with back-to-back goals from freshman Sierra Romie (Newington, Conn.). After an AMC foul just outside the penalty area, classmate Ariana Gazaferi (Southington, Conn.) took the free kick and played a cross into the box that found Gazaferi who poked it into the back of the net to put the Blue Jays up 3-0 at the 77:24 timestamp. She then tacked on another insurance goal in the 80th minute to account for the 4-0 final. Ghent sent a quick throw-in deep up the right wing to Romie who was all alone and she caught Fenn out of position. She ripped a shot from 40-yards out that curled into the open net to seal the win.
Ricci was terrific all afternoon and picked up the shutout win between the pipes for the Blue Jays after logging eight saves. She improves her record to 7-6-1 in her junior campaign following the victory. Fenn was dealt the loss for the Falcons and slips to 2-6-0. She made 13 stops.
The Blue Jays held a sizeable, 28-9, advantage in total shots in the match, including a 17-8 advantage in shots on goal. The Falcons won the corner kick battle edging USJ, 6-5.
The USJ women's soccer team concludes the regular season and will have Senior Day on Saturday when they host top-ranked Lasell on the USJ Soccer Field beginning at 12:00 p.m.