WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Sophomore forward Dane Stephens (Jamaica) was the man of the hour, scoring the game-winning goal with just seconds to spare, as the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's soccer team captured a, 2-1, come-from-behind victory over the Pride of Regis College (REG), in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) match on the USJ Soccer Field Wednesday evening.
An animated crowd packed the USJ bleachers for a hotly contested, late-season shakeup. The Pride struck first, wasting little time and scoring in the fifth minute off a nice find from junior forward Zack Acciardo (Derry, N.H.) to senior back Diego Roman (Puerto Rico). That goal was enough to stand for nearly 50 minutes of play, as the Blue Jays were unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities. Finally, in the 53rd minute in the second half, junior midfielder Charles Mputu (Hartford, Conn.), who has come alive this season, found Mr. Clutch himself, fellow junior midfielder and captain Michael Torres (Hartford, Conn.). Following a save and rebound, Mputu laid off a pass back to Torres who ripped a shot into the top-right corner of the goal to score his second goal of the 2021 season and fifth of his career, to tie the contest at one-all. All that was left was to win the match outright.
Both teams traded chances in the second stanza, many by USJ (outshot Regis 17-4 in the second half), but ultimately neither team could find the back of the net. The best late opportunity for the hosts came on a penalty kick from the nation's leading scorer, senior forward DeAnte Anderson (Bloomfield, Conn.), who was 8-for-10 in his career on PK's entering Wednesday. His attempt though sailed just high as fans let out a gasp.
Just as overtime looked imminent, a yellow card was assessed to Regis which stopped the clock with 37 ticks remaining. The ball was played into the Pride's defensive end eventual to senior midfielder Jared Galarza (Newington, Conn.) who tried to fire on net, but it was blocked. The carom bounced over to Stephens, who found just enough air space to launch a missile from 22 yards out, which sliced into the top-left corner of the goal with only 23 seconds on the clock to give the Blue Jays the lead. It was bedlam in Blue Jay land, as the crowd erupted in absolute astonishment. The reaction continued until the clock hit zero, as USJ walked off their turf with a critical GNAC win.
Score: Regis 1, Saint Joseph 2
Records: REG 5-5-1 (3-4-1 GNAC), USJ 8-3-1 (5-3-0 GNAC)
Location: USJ Soccer Field | West Hartford, Conn.
COACH QUOTE [Paul Wright] "After conceding the first goal, I thought we showed some resilience to come back tonight. We had to be patient against a strong Regis team. We controlled a lot of the game, and created some excellent opportunities especially in the second half. We talked about the importance for us to remain patient and composed in front of goal, and our first goal was the perfect example of that. The second goal was just a spectacular effort from Dane Stephens."
- USJ owned the shots department, holding a 25-6 advantage, and also a 6-3 edge in corner kicks.
- The Blue Jays have won three of their last four matches.
- First win in a one-goal contest for the Blue Jays. They are 7-1 in games decided by more than one goal in 2021.
NUMBER TO KNOW
39 – The Blue Jays scored two more goals Wednesday, totaling 39 for the season. That is good for first in the GNAC in goals scored. They are also second in the conference in assists with 29.
REG – Senior goalkeeper Ivan Ramirez (Puerto Rico) was dealt the loss (2-3-0), allowing two goals and making seven saves in 90 minutes.
USJ – Sophomore stopper Jose Miguel Garcia Martin (Madrid, Spain) secured the win (3-2-1), allowing the one early goal in a full 90 minutes of work. He also had a save.
The Blue Jays continue its four-match, GNAC home stand with a battle against the Raiders of Rivier University on Saturday, October 16. The opening kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. on the USJ Soccer Field.
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