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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Hawk History: First Intercollegiate Soccer Game Ball

The game ball from the first intercollegiate soccer game at St. Joe’s PHOTO: SHENID BHAYROO/THE HAWK

The official birth of soccer at St. Joe’s can be traced back to Oct. 24, 1958, when the first intercollegiate soccer match was played at Finnesey Field.

 During this inaugural game, St. Joe’s College defeated Rutgers University-Camden with a score of 6-0.  The game ball is now located in a case in the St. Joe’s Archives Collection, located in the Drexel Library.

Despite its tarnished yellow color and slight deflation, the ball remains in good condition. The vintage style ball is made of leather, resembling a volleyball more than a modern-day soccer ball. The center seam is held together by five white laces that break up faint green ink lettering that reads “St. Joes vs Rutgers.”

Prior to the inaugural game, St. Joe’s College had no intramural or club soccer programs on campus. In fact, it took until 1996, almost 40 years after this first men’s game, for a women’s soccer team to appear on campus. 

Finnesey Field, now Sweeney Field, currently houses the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse programs. 

During the historic game, Jack Walls ’62 had three goals while co-captain Jay Crawford ’61 had two goals and Alex Tali ’61 contributed one to the scoring tally, all under Head Coach and former olympian Jack Dunn. This information is highlighted in thick green lettering on the actual ball itself, along with the date and location of the game.

Crawford, now 83 years old, told the Hawk that Dunn’s connection to Northeast Philadelphia helped him recruit different players for the inaugural team, including athletes from other sports such as water polo and track. 

“I had a scholarship for track, but I had played soccer all my life,” Crawford said. “I was the first one to come join.”

Dunn was the first head coach in St. Joe’s men’s soccer program history and coached the Hawks from 1958 to 1975. During his career at St. Joe’s, Dunn led the program to over 120 wins for a .658 winning percentage, and even guided three of his teams to the NCAA Tournament in 1966, 1971 and 1972. Dunn also produced a multitude of firsts for St. Joe’s men’s soccer, including nine All-Americans. 

While Crawford said he doesn’t remember the details of that winning game, he does remember the players’ relationship with Dunn, some of whom remain close to their now 91-year-old coach. 

“Coach Dunn was absolutely perfect,” Crawford said. “Everyone loved him.”

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Natalie Nevins
Natalie Nevins, Copy Editor
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