The University of Saint Joseph soccer team defeated Manhattanville on the road 2-1 in the Blue Jays season opener on Thursday afternoon. Junior forward Jessica Spezzano scored a goal and assisted on another to lift the Blue Jays to victory. With the win, USJ moves to 1-0 on the season and drops the Valiants to 0-1.
The Blue Jays jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with a goal in the fifth minute. Spezzano found sophomore Morgan Skolly behind the Valiant defense with a through ball down the right side. Skoly beat the Manhattanville goalkeeper inside the left post to give the Blue Jays an early advantage.
Manhattanville rallied in the first half, putting the pressure on in the offensive end of the field several times, but were able to manage only a pair of shots on goal for the first half as USJ entered the break leading 1-0.
The Valiants again threatened to begin the second half, but were unable to put one past freshman goalkeeper Megan Ricci. Saint Jospeh would then double its lead in the 77th minute on a successful penalty kick from Spezzano. Spezzano garnered the penalty opportunity after Manhattanville's Ashley Heis was issued a red card after being charged with intentionally keeping a shot out of the net with her hand.
The Valiants would attempt to mount a comeback and scored their first goal of the season late in the game when Dany Swidler buried a free-kick from 25 yards out into the top right corner of the goal at the 88:43 mark. The goal cut the deficit in half, but it was too little too late as the Blue Jays would holf on for the victory.
Saint Joseph finished the game with a 6-4 advantage in shots on goal and 12-11 edge in total shots. Ricci posted a pair of saves in her debut in goal for the Blue Jays and moves to 1-0 with the victory. Spezzano led the offense with four shots, putting three on frame with one goal and an assist.
The USJ soccer team will return to action next on Saturday as they travel to Curry College. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.