WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph soccer team dropped its regular season finale to the Simmons College Sharks, 3-0, on Saturday at home on the USJ Soccer Field. The Sharks struck for a goal in the first half before netting a pair of goals in the second half to seal the 3-0 victory. With the loss the Blue Jays finish the regular season 6-10-1 overall and 4-6-1 in GNAC play. Simmons improves to 8-7-2 on the year and 7-4 in conference action with the victory.
Sophomore Ciara Forde (Quincy, MA) found the back of the net twice for the Sharks in the victory, scoring the game winner at the 29:05 mark of the first half. Forde collected a pass near the top of the 18-yard box, made a couple dribbles to her left and then fired a curling shot with her left foot across frame and into the lower right corner of the net to give them all the cushion they would need in the shutout.
The Blue Jays best scoring chance of the first half came in the 35th minute when sophomore Sarah Palko (Southington, CT) received a through ball from classmate Nicole Aquillo (Hebron, CT) behind the Simmons defense. Palko had a clean look at goal from point blank range, but her shot attempt went right at Simmons' junior keeper Casey Halle (Watertown, MA) who was able to make the stop and preserve the lead.
In the second half USJ came out of the locker room and picked up the tempo and the pressure, but were unable to find the equilizer in the early going. Then, Simmons would break through once again and doubled its lead with the seventh goal of the season by freshman Rachel Gilbert (Falmouth, MA). Following a Simmons corner kick, junior Gabrielle Klane (Franklin, MA) eventually lofted a shot on goal that forced USJ's freshman netminder Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, NY) sprawling into the air for a save. However, Ricci's attempt to punch it over the crossbar came straight down and right to Gilbert who finished the rebound into a wide open net in the 55th minute.
The Sharks would then put the game out of reach 11 minutes later with the second goal of the game by Forde. Junior Jessie Pratt (Westfield, MA) settled a ball at the top of the 18-yard box, played a touch pass to Forde who then ripped a shot with her left foot past a diving Ricci and into the top right corner of the net at the 65:23 mark. The goal marked the second of the game and sixth of the season for Forde.
The Sharks outshot the Blue Jays 15-7 in the match and held a 6-1 edge in corner kicks. Forde paced the Simmons attack with seven total shot attempts, while Palko and sophomore Rileigh Luba (Bristol, CT) each had two for USJ.
Ricci made six saves for the Blue Jays in the loss and drops her record on the season to 4-7-1. Halle made five stops in the shutout for the visitors and improves to 7-7-1 overall on the season between the pipes.
The USJ soccer team will be back in action next in post-season play for the 17th straight season as they are the #8 seed in the GNAC Conference Tournament. They will play the #1 seed yet to be determined on the road on Sunday, Oct. 30. Simmons wraps up its regular season with a home game against Eastern Connecticut on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.