PHILADELPHIA, PA. 9/6/2015 – The Saint Joseph’s women’s soccer team was looking to shutout an opponent this season. The Hawks got it with a 3 – 0 win over the Rider Broncos at Sweeney Field. The clean slate was an accomplishment that coach Jess Mannella wanted for her team.
“We talked this week that we needed a shutout,” said Mannella. “We haven’t had a shutout this season. That Rider team is a really good team. We knew we had to be smart and focused, and I am proud of our team.”
Saint Joe’s took an early lead on an unassisted goal by senior Shannon Westhead just over ten minutes into the game. Westhead found the upper left corner of the net. Although the Hawks had the territorial advantage and kept the pressure on the Broncos defense, they could not get another one into the net. SJU held the one goal lead at halftime.
“At halftime we told them to have patience, it will come,” Mannella said. “We told the back line to keep focus because when you have the possessions you don’t want to get countered.”
It was Rider who came out in the second half and had two excellent chances on shots by forward Victoria Kealy and Kourtney Cunningham, but freshman Saint Joseph’s goal keeper Grace Bendon cleanly blocked away the high shots for her only two saves of the game.
Finally, Saint Joe’s broke through getting two goals in the last sixteen minutes to ensure the victory. Sophomore defender Janine Mueller took a shot from the box toward the low right corner that got past the waiting goal keeper with 15:52 on the clock. Senior forward Erica Graziosi was credited with the assist. Freshman forward Dakota Mills scored the third goal with 8:39 to play taking advantage of a momentary lapse by the Rider defense beating beat the goal keeper. The pressure finally paid off for SJU.
The Hawks had a 19 – 6 advantage in shots, and forced Broncos goal keeper Bethany-May Howard to make 7 saves. SJU posted a 5 – 1 edge in corner kicks. Mills had a team-high 4 shots, 3 were on goal.
Saint Joseph’s improves to 3 – 1 on the season, and prepare for the next outing on Friday at Seton Hall.
Written By: Glenn Papazian