West Hartford, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph soccer team recorded its second consecutive shutout as they blanked the Newbury College Nighthawks, 1-0, on Monday afternoon at the USJ Soccer Field. Freshman Leah Strycharz (Coventry, CT/Coventry) lifted the Blue Jays to victory with a goal in the 29th minute, which stood as the difference maker. With the win, USJ improves to 3-2 overall on the season, while Newbury falls to 1-3 with the loss.
The Nighthawks opened the game on a frenzy and created what could have been considered their best opportunity of the first half in the opening two minutes. Newbury earned the first corner kick just 1:10 into the match and it almost resulted into an early advantage for the visitors. Freshman Jahna Macnamee (Medford, MA/Medford) took the corner and found sophomore Jennifer McDonald (Magnolia, TX) whose shot sailed just high.
Saint Joseph would settle in though and had a burst of their own just a few minutes later. Within a two minute span just after the six minute mark, sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, CT/Rockville) sent a shot just wide of frame, sophomore Sarah Palko (Southington, CT/Southington) ripped one just over the cross bar and junior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, CT/Watertown) blasted a shot off the right goal post.
USJ would keep up the pressure and controlled the majority of play in the first half before finally breaking through at the 28:37 mark. The Nighthawks were unable to successfully clear a Blue Jay attempted through ball and the clearance landed right at the foot of Strycharz about 25 yards away from goal. Strycharz unleashed a shot which curled perfectly under the hands of the Newbury goalkeeper and into the back-left corner of the net to put USJ up 1-0. The marker was the first of the career for Strycharz.
The goal would prove to be all the Blue Jays would need and stood as the game-winner. In the second half, USJ dominated the majority of the play once again, however the Nighthawks did pose a few threats in a couple counter attack situations. The best opportunity for Newbury to tie the match came at the 67:58 mark when junior Shannon Walsh (Massapequa, NY/Massapequa) slipped behind the USJ defense and was one-on-one with Blue Jays goalie freshman Megan Ricci (Certer Moriches, NY/Center Moriches), but her shot attempt went just wide.
Ricci made a pair of stops to record her second straight shutout of the season and improves her record to 3-1 overall on the season between the pipes for the blue and yellow. Newbury's Noelle Sass (Randolph, MA/Randolph) took the loss in goal for the Nighthawks. She posted seven saves as her record slips to 1-2 on the season.
The Blue Jays out shot the Nighthawks 19-6 in the match, including 8-2 in shots on goal. They also held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
The USJ soccer team will return to action next on Saturday, Sept. 17 as they travel to Suffolk and look to remain undefeated in GNAC action. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Nighthawks will next play on Wednesday when they host Fisher College for 6 p.m. contest.