WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, CT/Rockville) found the back of the net twice in the first half as the University of Saint Joseph soccer team defeated Rivier University, 3-0, at home on Sunday afternoon. With the victory the Blue Jays improve their overall record to 4-4 and move to 2-1 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference play. Rivier drops to 1-4-2 on the year and 0-3 in the conference with the loss.
The Blue Jays wasted little time making their mark against the Raiders on Sunday afternoon and raced out to an early 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the match. Following the opening kickoff, USJ drove down the field and junior Nicole Aquillo (Hebron, CT/RHAM) played a through ball that found Skoly inside the 18-yard box. Skoly collected and beat Rivier's junior keeper Lauren Goodspeed (Merrimack, NH/Merrimack) with a shot into the lower left corner of the goal to give the home team the early advantage.
Rivier nearly tied the match and had their best opportunity to score in the first half at the 9:43 mark. Junior Emily Edwards (North Kingstown, RI/North Kingstown) gathered a loose ball just outside the box and fired a shot that sailed just barely over the crossbar.
Both teams would settle into play over the next 20 minutes with USJ controlling much of the possession. They would finally break through once again and doubled up its lead with a goal from Aquillo at the 30:31 mark. Junior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, CT/Watertown) beat a Rivier defender 1v1 down the right hand side and then played a perfect cross into the box that found the foot of Aquillo who beat the keeper high and right. The goal was the first of the season for Aquillo.
The Blue Jays would turn right around and strike again quickly with their third goal of the first half at the 34:54 mark. Skoly recorded her second marker of the match and her fourth of the season after Rivier misplayed a cross with a false touch that went right to freshman Natalia Zajaczkowski (Plainville, CT/Plainville). Zajackowski played a touch pass to her left to Skoly who ripped a shot under the Rivier keeper for the 3-0 lead heading into the break.
That would be all the Blue Jays would need as their defense stood tall in the second half and blanked the Raiders to complete the shutout. They withstood a seven minute fury by the Raiders in the opening minutes of the second half that saw the visitors earn five corner kicks and one shot over that time span.
USJ freshman goalkeeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) earned her third shutout of her career in the victory. She made three saves and improves her record to 4-3 on the season. Goodspeed also made three stops for the Raiders in the setback.
The Blue Jays held a slight 9-7 advantage in total shots, including a 6-3 advantage in shots on goal. Rivier held an 8-2 advantage in corner kicks, including a 7-0 advanatge in the second half.
The USJ soccer team will be back in action next on Wednesday, Sept. 28 when they travel to Norwich to take on the Cadets in a 7 p.m. GNAC showdown. Rivier also next plays on Wednesday when they head to Anna Maria College for a 5 p.m. conference tilt.