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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

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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Men’s soccer ties Villanova 0-0

Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., ’17


[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”2″ gal_title=”Mens soccer vs. Villanova”]

For the third time in four games, the Saint Joseph’s University men’s soccer team shut out their opponent. The Hawks took on Philadelphia Soccer Six rival Villanova University on Tuesday night, resulting in a 0-0 draw.

“I was really proud of them and I thought we outplayed [Villanova],” Head Coach Don D’Ambra said. “We deserved to come away with three points [a win], but to come away with a draw is still fine. We were happy with it. I was more happy with the complete game. We’ve been having good defensive performances, but our offensive game has been lacking. I thought we did some good stuff tonight.”

St. Joe’s junior goalkeeper Greg O’Connell played the full 110 minutes, making six saves en route to the third shutout of his collegiate career.

“We could have scored, but we’re glad with a draw,” O’Connell said. “For a goalie, I want a shutout. Anything for a shutout. I was making reaction saves at the end. I loved it. Great performance.”

O’Connell made a few tough saves throughout the game, including a jumping fingertips save in the 59th minute, and a game-saving stop in the 107th minute.

“He did well. Three of those saves were really, really game-changing saves,” D’Ambra said. “He didn’t have to do too much, but came up when he had to, just like everyone else on the field… He’s doing everything really well. He’s managing the game really well, which probably a lot of people don’t realize. He’s a calming factor back there.”

O’Connell’s first save came off a free kick from Villanova sophomore Zach Zandi in the ninth minute, the first shot of the match. The Hawks’ first shot came two minutes later from sophomore Derek MacKinnon. Six of the next seven shots came from the Hawks.

St. Joe’s came up with some strong opportunities to score, although the shots either went wide or were stopped by Villanova goalkeeper Will Steiner.

“We just got to finish our chances on the offensive end,” St. Joe’s senior Mike Stuski said. “We could have come away with a win here, but we let a few [opportunities] slip through our fingers, myself included.”

At the end of the first half, both teams had seven shots and two corner kicks.

St. Joe’s had an opportunity to score in the 59th minute with a clear path to the goal, but were unable to finish the play.

The Hawks’ offense picked up as the second half drew to a close, with Stuski firing two headshots in the 82nd and the 85th minute. Junior Matt Crawford had two shots in the 88th minute, just five seconds apart.

“I think Villanova is one of the stronger opponents we’re going to play this year, and I think we created some great chances,” D’Ambra said. “The last few games we spoke, we’ve been trying to work on the offensive end. Now, we had great chances, and we just have to put them away. We had some easy balls, and we need to execute a little better.”

The Hawks didn’t record a shot in the first overtime period, although they did earn two corner kicks.

In the 107th minute, Vandi headed the ball towards the Hawks’ net, but O’Connell jumped and swatted the ball away, knocking it over the goal’s crossbar. With less than two minutes to play in the game, St. Joe’s senior Sam Irvin fired a shot, but Villanova’s defense blocked the shot, keeping the score deadlocked.

The Hawks held the advantage in shots, 17-13; two of St. Joe’s shots were on goal. Both teams finished the game with two corner kicks.

“We played well. We played as a unit,” Stuski said. “There were a lot of moving parts with Nova—they like to switch guys around in the midfield and forward. It really came down to communicating with one another. I think we did a really solid job as a whole team.”

The Hawks received full-game performances from O’Connell, Stuski, Crawford, senior Bliss Harris, junior Ben Zambetti, senior Eric Jordan, sophomore Eddie McCusker, and junior Kevin Lockhart.

“I think there are a couple of guys going unnoticed right now,” D’Ambra said. “Eric Jordan, Mike Stuski, Bliss Harris, Matty Crawford—these are upperclassmen that are really leading by example. I think that’s something we’ve been lacking with the program, so it’s nice to see these guys stepping up in big games and being the better players.”

The Hawks will take on Central Connecticut State University on Saturday, September 24.

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