Saint Joseph's Defense Stymies UMass in 7-6 Win
from staff reports
PHILADELPHIA — Saint Joseph's led by two goals heading into the fourth quarter and held on to beat UMass 7-6 in a Colonial Athletic Association upset on Saturday afternoon at Finnesey Field. With the victory, the Hawks pick up their first league win of the season to stand at 4-6 overall and 1-2 in the CAA.
"To beat a team as good as UMass is pretty incredible for us," said head coach Taylor Wray. "Our players deserve all the credit. They beat a great team; UMass is a great team, but we did the things we needed to do. We made saves, we picked up ground balls, we scrapped all over the field, and we finished our opportunities. Coming off of a mid-week loss in the fashion that we lost at Drexel, it's a credit to the character in our locker room that they can bounce back, come out here and perform the way they did today."
Tied 4-4 heading into the second half, Massachusetts (5-5, 0-2 CAA) took the lead on a goal from Will Manny just 2:52 in the third period to give the Minutemen their fifth lead of the game.
Each team would be held scoreless over the next 7:51 before the Hawks exploded for a game-changing 3-0 run that spanned the rest of the period give SJU a 7-5 advantage, its biggest lead of the game. Freshman attack Pat Swanick got the scoring started with a brilliant offensive move as he made a sharp turn around the left side of the cage and put the ball into the lower-left corner to tie the game at five all (4:17). Junior midfielder Johnny Simanski was a key part of the next two goals as he dished out assists to senior attack Kyle Williams and sophomore midfielder Michael Dougherty (1:46, 0:02) to send the Hawks into the final period with the 7-5 lead.
Massachusetts tallied its sixth goal of the game at the 8:42 mark of the fourth. However, junior midfielder Will Abbott won a crucial face-off to hand the Hawks their next possession. After senior midfielder Steve Dunn turned the ball over, he stripped a Minuteman on the next play to regain possession for the Hawks through the next 2:04. "The guys are going to make mistakes," said Wray. "You have to live with the mistakes. It's all about what you do with the next play. Steve turned it over when he threw the ball away in the clear, but then he stripped the guy two seconds later on defense and we got the ball back. It's the way that the games go, and Steve had a heck of a game."
Sophomore goalkeeper Dustin Keen made two tremendous saves in the final three minutes (2:45, 1:20). After the second save, UMass gained possession with a ground ball, but its clear attempt would fail as senior captain Kyle Mahoney forced a Minuteman turnover with :40 remaining in regulation. SJU would hold onto the possession as time expired.
UMass scored the first goal of the game (9:44) before Dougherty and freshman midfielder Richard Gabelman registered goals (9:02, 1:34) to put the Hawks up 2-1. The Minutemen netted two goals in the final minute (0:43, 0:08) to take a 3-2 into the second period. The Hawks put up a pair of goals sandwiched between a Massachusetts tally to tie the game, four apiece.
Dougherty led the Hawks with two goals and caused four turnovers on the defensive end while Simanski recorded one goal in addition to his two assists. Dunn picked up a team-high four ground balls and caused two turnovers.
Keen was phenomenal in goal, making 13 saves in a full 60-minute effort. The sophomore came through with four crucial stops in the final period to preserve the lead for the Crimson and Gray.
"We tried to limit their shots to outside shots and let Dustin see the ball," said Wray. "He's a good goalie. We did that today and he made all the saves that we asked him to make and stole a few away. He had a tremendous game for us."
In a game that saw a total of six lead changes, there was never more than a one-goal differential until 0:02 left in the third period. UMass held advantages in shots (29-24) and ground balls (21-16) and won nine of 15 face-off opportunities on the day, but the Hawks' defensive unit shut down the Minutemen offense in the final half.
Saint Joseph's returns to action next weekend in the HEADstrong Foundation's first annual Relentless Cup. The Hawks will play Saturday, April 6, against CAA-opponent Hofstra at Ridley High School in Folsom, Pa. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.