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Second-Half Surge Powers Women's Soccer Past Simmons, 4-2

Second-Half Surge Powers Women's Soccer Past Simmons, 4-2

WEST HARTFORD, Conn.  The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) erupted for three second-half goals, including the game-winning goal by freshman Jenna Zup (Berlin, Conn.) in the 69th minute on a brilliant free-kick strike from 30-yards out, to defeat the Sharks of Simmons University (SIMM), 4-2, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) women's soccer match on a misty Monday afternoon at the USJ Soccer Field.

Play was slow and steady to start this one with neither team registering a shot until Simmons was able to get one off 11:25 into the first half. A consistent light mist played a factor all game as the field slicked up and both teams were cautious in the early stages. The first good scoring chance came in the 23rd minute for the Blue Jays. Following a corner kick that was sent in by senior Ali O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) and punched out by the Simmons goalkeeper, freshman Kelsi Ursini (Groton, Conn.) came charging on to try and punch in the rebound, but it was stopped and caromed over the endline wide of goal.

The Blue Jays kept up the pressure and were able to net the first goal of the game in the 35th minute. O'Neill played a long ball into far left corner and junior forward Maxine Muscatello (Berlin, Conn.) sprinted up to it, drove 90 degress toward goal, and was able to sneak a shot that bounced off the Sharks' keeper and inside the near post. That would serve as the only goal heading into the haltime break.

Things ramped up in the second half with five goals in total between the two teams. The Blue Jays were able to extend their lead to 2-0 at the 48:35 mark. Ursini used her speed to drive up the right side and then chipped a pass across the face of the goal to the back post that found freshman Jocelin Castro Ramirez (Windham, Conn.) wide open for a tap-in goal. It marked the first career goal for Castro Ramirez.

The Sharks would not go down quietly though and punched back with the next two goals to tie things up, 2-2, with just under 24 minutes left in regulation. Simmons got on the board first at the 61:53 mark after a foul was committed inside the 18-yard box and a penalty kick was assessed. Freshman Rachel Hogan (Franklin, Mass.) stepped up and converted the PK to trim the Sharks' deficit to 2-1. Less than five minutes later the visitors tied the game with a counter attack after USJ turned it over following a corner kick. A two-on-one situation and nice combination play between sophomore Sydney Neumuth (Marlborough, Conn.) and senior Nell Spencer (Buxton, Maine) resulted in the goal.

That setup the game-winning goal by Zup 2:30 later at the 68:49 mark. A Simmons foul resulted in a free-kick opportunity that Zup drilled and floated over the head of the Sharks' keeper and into the back of the net. Muscatello would go on to add her second goal of the game and team-leading seventh of the season in the 81st minute as an insurance goal and the Blue Jays walked away with a much-needed victory as the postseason tournament looms in hopes of securing a home game for the GNAC Quarterfinals.

GAME INFORMATION
Score:  Saint Joseph 4, Simmons University 2
Records: USJ (11-3-1, 8-3-1 GNAC), SIMM (2-13-1, 2-9-1 GNAC)
Location: USJ Soccer Field | West Hartford, Conn.

COACH QUOTE [Jenna Kalwa] "That was a solid team performance today. We finally started solving some offensive dynamics and found the back of the net. Maxine Muscatello continues to provide as a difference maker up top for us, a first-time goal scorer today in Jocelin Castro Ramirez, and a lethal free kick by Jenna Zup for the game-winner. We will continue to build momentum into the regular-season finale on Wednesday and look to make a deep run in the postseason."

GOALIE BREAKDOWN

SIMM – Sophomore goalie Marita Nothacker (Philadelphia, Pa.) finished with four saves in 90 minutes of action and drops to 2-13-0 on the season for the Sharks.

USJ – Sophomore goalie Victoria Schaffner (Waterbury, Conn.) picked up the win between the pipes to improve to 10-3-1 overall on the season, allowing two goals in 90 minutes of work. She finished with one save.

UP NEXT
The Blue Jays hit the road for their 2021 regular-season finale on Wednesday, October 27 at Dean College. Kickoff between the Blue Jays and Bulldogs is slated for 3:00 p.m.

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