PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's soccer team scrapped and clawed, but ultimately fell on the road to the Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Wildcats, 2-1, in a gritty Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match Wednesday afternoon at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Athletic Complex. With the setback, the Blue Jays drop back-to-back matches for the first time this season, falling to 8-5-0 overall and 4-3-0 in the GNAC. Meanwhile, the victory by the Wildcats is their 10th in a row as they improve to 12-2-0 on the year and remain undefeated in league play at 7-0-0.
In a pivital conference match on a chilly October afternoon in Providence, the play on the pitch reflected two playoff-caliber teams as both clubs had opportunities and applied consistent pressure. Both teams were stout in the midfield and created chances on what seemed like every possession early on.
The Wildcats were able to break through first as sophomore JP Rioux (Stony Point, N.Y.) found the back corner of the net in the 35th minute off a feed from classmate Nick Gutekunst (East Northport, N.Y.). It marked Rioux's 10th goal and Gutekunst's eighth helper of the season for the hosts.
That would be the score as the teams headed into the halftime intermission, but JWU would waste little time to bump its lead as the second period got underway. At the 51:30 mark, sophomore Kevin Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) netted an unassisted marker after he settled the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and blasted a shot that sped past USJ's freshman keeper John Griffin's (Southington, Conn.) left side for his third goal of his career.
As the second-half clock continued to tick, Saint Joseph looked to rally late and would be successful, trimming the deficit to 2-1 when sophomore forward DeAnte Anderson (Bloomfield, Conn.) stunned the Wildcats with a goal in the 73rd minute. Sophomore Matt Lombardo (West Hartford, Conn.) served in a perfect corner kick toward the far post and found Anderson who slipped behind a JWU defender. His initial point-blank shot off the half-volley was saved by JWU's junior keeper Austin Scoggin (Cutchogue, N.Y.), but the rebound bounced right back to Anderson who tapped it out of mid-air and into the back of the net.
The goal marked the team-leading 11th goal of the season for Anderson, who now ranks second in the GNAC in goals and third in points with 25, as he also has three assists on the year so far.
The Blue Jays kept attacking looking for the equalizer to force overtime, but the Wildcats defense held strong and were able to keep USJ off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game to log their 10th straight win.
Scoggin made five saves and picked up the win between the pipes for the Wildcats to improve to 10-2-0 on the season, while Griffin was dealt the loss in goal for the Blue Jays and falls to 4-4-0. Griffin finished with seven saves.
JWU held the edge in total shots in the match, 12-7, and shots on goal, 9-6. The Wildcats also drew eight corner kicks to the Blue Jays' four.
The USJ men's soccer team looks to get back on track with a key GNAC match at home on Saturday versus Suffolk. Kick off is slated for 2:30 p.m. between the Blue Jays and Rams on the USJ Soccer Field.
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