WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Sophomore DeAnte Anderson (Bloomfield, Conn.) found the back of the net in the 100th minute to lift the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's soccer team to a thrilling, 2-1, Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) victory in overtime over the visiting Suffolk University Rams Saturday afternoon on Senior Day on the USJ Soccer Field. With the victory, the Blue Jays improve to 9-5-0 overall on the season and 5-3-0 in the GNAC, while the Rams slip to 5-7-1 and 3-5-0.
In what was a back-and-forth battle all match long, fans of both the Blue Jays and the Rams were treated to a well-played game that saw a little bit of everything, keeping everyone on the edge of their seat at all times on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon in West Hartford. It would be the home team that would prevail though, and with time ticking down in the first overtime period, Anderson came up clutch, as he has been doing all season long.
With less than a minute remaining on the clock in the first overtime, Anderson settled the ball just outside the penalty area on the right wing. With his back to the goal and fending off a couple Suffolk defenders, Anderson turned, found a little bit of space, and gunned a shot with his left foot that beat the Rams' freshman keeper Kyle Rosa (Chelmsford, Mass.) near post to lift the Blue Jays to a critical GNAC victory.
The triumph keeps USJ in a tie for fourth place in the GNAC standings with three games left to play, including a season-ending home matchup on Oct. 30 with GNAC and intrastate foe Albertus Magnus, who the Blue Jays are currently tied with. Meanwhile, the setback for Suffolk drops them to a tie for eighth in a tightly packed standings where every match from here on out will carry a lot of weight for playoff seedings.
After a scoreless first frame, Suffolk's Jason Castro (Everett, Mass.) drew a red card 6:46 into the second stanza, which gave the Blue Jays a man-up opportunity the remainder of the way.
USJ wasted little time taking advantage of the man-up situation, scoring the first goal of the game in the 55th minute. Off a corner kick, sophomore defender Matt Lombardo (West Hartford, Conn.) stepped up to provide the service. It was brilliantly executed as he launched an arching pass and found Anderson at the far post and he leaped up to head it into the back of the net.
The Rams responded right back in the 62nd minute to level the playing field at one-all. Freshman forward Sunjoon Tenorio (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) collected the ball near midfield on the right wing. He drove up the entire ride sideline one-on-one with a Blue Jays' defender. Once Tenorio entered the 18-yard box, the rookie angled toward goal, fended off the defense, and slipped a quick shot between the near post and USJ's sennior keerper Joseph Boland (Rhineback, N.Y.) to make it a 1-1 game.
Despite multiple chances on either end, neither team was able to punch onto the board throughout the rest of the second half to force the extra session. It appeared the Blue Jays may had pulled off the unthinkable at the end of regulation when sophomore Hayden Burbank (Southington, Conn.) turned and fired a shot with the final second ticking off the clock. The ball beat Suffolk's keeper into the top right corner of the net, but it didn't cross the goalmouth before the horn sounded and the officials waved it off in dramatic fashion.
More than half of the first overtime was erased before the first attempt on target was made. Freshman Patrick Mason (Lebanon, N.H.) nearly ended the match and gave Suffolk the victory in the 97th minute. With Boland guarding the near post, Mason went far post and beat Boland, but junior Gaetano LaBella (Wethersfield, Conn.) was the man on the spot and kicked it out of harms way.
USJ's first chance on net game with less than one-minute remaining. Anderson took advantage of the opportunity and slipped the rock past Rosa to lift the hosts to a walk-off victory.
Boland picked up the win between the pipes for USJ on Senior Day and improves to 5-1-0 on the season after making a pair of saves. Rosa was dealt the loss for the Rams and falls to 2-2-0 on the year. He finished with seven saves.
The Blue Jays held a significant advatage in shots, 20-10, and shots on goal, 9-4. They also won the corner kick battle, 8-3.
The USJ men's soccer team is back in GNAC action with another key conference match on Wednesday afternoon at Regis. Kick off between the Blue Jays and Pride is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Regis Stadium.
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