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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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

Defense wins

Photo+by+Christy+Selagy%2C+M.A.%2C+17
Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., ’17

Four shutouts in five games for men’s soccer

For the first time this season, the Saint Joseph’s University men’s soccer team scored multiple goals in a game. The Hawks (3-4-1) defeated the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils by a final score of 2-0 on Saturday, Sept. 24. Both of St. Joe’s goals came from junior midfielder Matt Crawford, the first multi-goal game of his career, according to SJU Athletic Communications.

“I think it should be noted that that was our fourth shutout in five games,” St. Joe’s Head Coach Don D’Ambra said. “Our collective team defensive has been really good.”

The first half of the game was paced by scoreless play, although the Blue Devils had possession of the ball for much of the half.

“It was a very frustrating first half, to be honest,” D’Ambra said. “We started really flat. Central Connecticut was really putting a lot of pressure on us. We did do a good job of keeping possession of the ball when we did win it.”

The Blue Devils held the advantage in first half shots, 9-5, and in corner kicks, 9-0. St. Joe’s junior goalkeeper Greg O’Connell made four of his six saves in the first half.

“It wasn’t so much tactically as it was just our effort,” Crawford said of the adjustments for the second half. “We weren’t working hard as a unit… So we kind of came out, we made a decision, took our time, and everyone was responsible to communicate better and make sure we all worked hard together.”

The Hawks struck in the 65th minute of play when Crawford headed in a goal inside the box off a pass from senior defender Mike Stuski.

“We’ve been trying to get the ball out wide more, and get in crosses,” Crawford said. “I was just kind of moving in the middle, making sure I could get away from a defender… It ended up getting out to Mike Stuski, and he whipped in a great ball.”

Three minutes later, Crawford took a penalty kick and sent the ball past Central Connecticut goalkeeper Nick Velleca for the Hawks’ second and final goal of the night.

Central Connecticut had possession of the ball for most of the rest of the game, taking three of the four final shots of the game. Two of those shots were on goal, but O’Connell made the saves to keep the shutout intact.

“Greg made a couple nice saves [in the first half] that, [if] he doesn’t make those saves, you go down 1-0 in the first half and now you’re chasing the game,” D’Ambra said. “He stepped up in the first half, kept us in the game, and we got the rest of the team to kind of do what they needed to do. That’s what he’s done all year.”

The Hawks outshot the Blue Devils 7-6 in the second half. The Blue Devils held the overall advantage in both shots, 15-12, and corner kicks, 12-2.

Crawford led St. Joe’s with five shots, two on goal. Senior midfielder Bliss Harris added three shots of his own, one of which was on goal.

D’Ambra believes the team is on the right track after struggling offensively in the first six games of the season.

“Absolutely [the offense is headed in the right direction],” D’Ambra said. “That’s what I told them. I said, ‘The last couple games, we’ve created chances, and we have to convert those. At some point, they’re going to go in. Keep working hard. Keep pushing.’”

St. Joe’s got full-game performances from O’Connell, Harris, Stuski, senior midfielder Sam Irvin, junior defender Ben Zambetti, and sophomore defender Eddie McCusker.

“I think our confidence is a little higher than if we hadn’t been able to get the win,” Crawford said. “I think we’ll be able to roll with some of that confidence.”

The Hawks will open up Atlantic 10 play on Saturday, Oct. 1 at Saint Bonaventure University at 6 p.m.

Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., '17
Photo by Christy Selagy, M.A., ’17
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