WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team made it three straight shutouts, taking down Colby-Sawyer College (CSC), 1-0, on the USJ Soccer Field Saturday. With the win, the Blue Jays improve to 8-1-0 overall in their quest to take the top spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), where they sit at 3-1-0. The Chargers slip to 3-7-0 and are now 1-3-0 in the GNAC.
The game was a back-and-forth-battle from the first whistle. There were moments where it looked like both teams would find a way to push through the defense and convert. Time and time again though shots were just wide, and goalies were just right, but one finally got through for USJ, and it was enough for the win.
Freshman forward Olivia Belcourt (Cromwell, Conn.) sank her third career goal on a superb touch pass from sophomore midfielder Rylee Snow (West Greenwich, R.I.) in the 65th minute. This came after several second-half chances were just off. The Blue Jays buckled down in the final 25 minutes, staying aggressive and nearly putting up a second goal, all while killing clock. The Chargers had several chances late, but could not convert.
In goal, sophomore Lindsey Montminy (Vernon, Conn.) had five saves, good for her fourth shutout of 2019. She picked up the win (7-1-0), while senior Sam Mitchell (Chester, N.H.), who had three big saves besides allowing the goal, was dealt the loss (3-7-0).
It looked early on like USJ was going to get on the board straight away, as freshman forward Maxine Muscatello (Berlin, Conn.) led the attack with three quick shots in four minutes, including a header that went high. Her best chance to score was her first: a shot from right to left that hit the left post in the 13th minute.
Both teams were evenly matched in the first half, with the Blue Jays taking a mere 5-4 shot advantage, while the Chargers held a 2-1 shots on goal advantage. CSC had its best chance of the half on back-to-back shots in the 36th minute from senior midfielder Molly Maclure (Westford, Mass.). The first one was quickly blocked, but the Chargers were determined. 20 seconds later, Maclure did it again, but Montminy snatched it just in time, one of her two saves in the half.
You could feel the sense of urgency in the second half, knowing one goal could decide it. Sophomore midfielder Sierra Romie (Newington, Conn.) had the best chance of the early part of the half off a cross from Snow, a hard-kicked ball that went wide left by just a few feet, in the 60th minute.
CSC came charging back on a shot from freshman forward Sophia Chirigotis (Merrimac, Mass.), who beat everyone down the field, but the ball went storming over the net.
After Belcourt's big-time goal, USJ went on the defense, but CSC still had several legitimate chances to tie. Freshman defender Hannah Marquis (Weare, N.H.) had a shot just wide left off a great lead pass from midfield. The Chargers got two free kicks from about 25-to-30 yards out as well, but both were unsuccessful.
The clock kept ticking. USJ almost put in a second goal twice in the final five minutes, but the Chargers would have the last shot of the game, and nearly tied it. Chirigotis sent a ball rolling across the box, to the right side of the goal past a diving Montminy, only it went wide. There was a collective sigh of releif across the USJ Soccer Field, as the final 20 seconds went off the clock.
USJ returns to the pitch for another home GNAC matchup against Anna Maria on Wednesday, October 2. Kick-off between the Blue Jays and Amcats has been moved up to 2:30 p.m. on the USJ Soccer Field.