Soccer Team Wins Again - GNAC Regular Season Champs!
Saint Joseph defeated Emerson 1-0 Wednesday night in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference game which enabled the Blue Jays (12-1-1 overall, 10-0-1 conference) to clinch the regular-season GNAC title for the first time in school history.
Saint Joseph earned home field advantage throughout the upcoming GNAC tournament. The Blue Jays will host the No. 8 seed in the tournament Sun. Oct. 28 in a quarterfinal game. USJ would also host a semifinal Wed. Oct. 31 and the championship game, Sat. Oct. 2, should it advance. The winner of the GNAC tournament earns a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
"Since August 20th, one of our goals has been to do the absolute best we can and having that be regular-season champs right now is just great, just awesome for the coaches and players," USJ coach Chris LeGates said. "The real season starts now, with the GNAC tournament. The real goal has always been to be one of the teams that makes it to the NCAA tournament. But for tonight, we're very happy and it's a great accomplishment for every single person associated with program. We'll enjoy it and get back to work Friday and keep looking to get better."
Emerson outshot Saint Joseph, 12-5, including 11-1 in the second half, but USJ junior forward Patricia Nolan (Portland, Conn.) put in the one shot that mattered most just 5 minutes, 49 seconds into the game.
It was Nolan's team-leading 11th goal of the season, the 42nd of her career and her 12th career game-winner. Graduate student Abby Montambault (Watertown, Conn.) split two defenders to make a feed to Nolan who fired in a shot from 16 yards.
Emerson attacked relentlessly in the second half, particularly late, with the Lions generating six shots in the final 16 minutes, including two in the final 90 seconds. USJ freshman goalkeeper Melissa Dodge (Watertown, Conn.), who entered the game fifth in the country with a .940 save percentage, was equal to the task and made six saves for her seventh shutout of the season.
Emerson dropped to 7-4-3 overall and 5-3-3 in the GNAC.
Saint Joseph plays at Suffolk Sat. Oct. 20 at 4:30 p.m. and plays its final home game of the regular season, Tue. Oct. 23 against Coast Guard at 3:30 p.m. That game is being taped by CPTV Sports and will have its initial airing Thur. Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.