WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The fourth-seeded University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team put on a clinic in its Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Quarterfinal match, shutting out the fifth-seeded Falcons of Albertus Magnus College (AMC), 3-0, in front of a packed and raucous crowd at the USJ Soccer Field Saturday night. The Blue Jays advance to the GNAC Semifinals for the first time since 2015, and are set to travel to Johnson & Wales University (JWU), the tournament's top seed, on Wednesday, November 3 in Providence, R.I.
It could not have gone better for the Blue Jays on a rain-soaked Saturday night under the lights in USJ's first home women's soccer playoff game since 2012, as junior forward Maxine Muscatello (Berlin, Conn.), who has been on a tear to close out the season (six goals last four games), scored two coast-to-coast goals, igniting the hosts to a thrilling victory. Sophomore midfielder Marisa Brough (Cheshire, Conn.) was nothing short of spectacular also in her third game back, sending a header into the net in the 57th minute to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.
The defense may have just been the biggest story though, as the Blue Jays' backline, along with league leader and sophomore stopper Victoria Schaffner (Waterbury, Conn.), kept senior forward Katherine Raposo (Warwick, R.I.), a top-five scorer in the GNAC in check from start to finish, as Schaffner recorded her league-leading eighth shutout of 2021, and her first in the postseason. The mastermind of it all, first-year head coach Jenna Kalwa, recorded her first playoff win on debut and on her home field. The Blue Jays, who were hosting their first GNAC Tournament match since 2012, have never advanced to the conference championship; they will get a shot to do that on Wednesday when they head over the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.
Score: #5 Albertus Magnus 0, #4 Saint Joseph 3
Records: AMC 11-6-0, USJ 13-3-1
Location: USJ Soccer Field | West Hartford, Conn.
Notes: GNAC Quarterfinals
PLAYER QUOTE [Maxine Muscatello] "The team really got the job done. Coach Kalwa gave us the scouting report before the game, and we came together collectively at the right moments. I couldn't be more proud of my team. They set me up for success tonight. I just hand it all to them. All season long we have been saying, 'play for each other'. We work hard in practice, and we show up for the big moments. Tonight was definitely one of those moments."
COACH QUOTE [Jenna Kalwa] "It's what you see every day in practice from this group. At this stage of the season, it's not as much about the X's and O's…it's about culture, and this team plays for each other. We are a family through and through, and I am so proud of them."
It's off to Providence for the Blue Jays, who will prepare for their tallest task yet; a battle against top-seeded and defending champion JWU in the GNAC Semifinals. That match is scheduled for Wednesday, November 3 at a time to be determined. The Blue Jays and Wildcats played to a scoreless draw earlier this season on September 18 on the USJ Soccer Field. USJ is seeking its first GNAC Championship appearance in program history, while the Wildcats continue their quest to win back-to-back titles.
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