WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Senior attackman Chris Blewitt scored four times and added an assist to lead the Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse squad (1-3) to its first win of the season with an 11-5 victory over Monmouth (2-3) at Kessler Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Fellow attackmen Mike Rastivo and Patrick O'Brien added two goals apiece as SJU's starting attack unit accounted for 73 percent of the Hawks' scoring on the afternoon.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler made 13 saves and held Monmouth's offense to just five goals allowed while, for the second game in a row, freshman face-off specialist William Jardeleza went over 60% from the X, winning 13-of-19 possessions from the circle.
“I’m really pleased with how we played today,” said head coach Taylor Wray. “We were very honest and hard on our guys after the last game [vs. St. John’s], and they responded at practice and responded with their play today. It was really a solid team win, from goaltending, to face-off, to transition, to offense. I thought we played better in all areas."
Blewitt scored all four of his goals in the first 30:00 to give SJU a 7-3 advantage at the halftime break.
The senior scored back-to-back, game-opening goals (14:11, 12:49) before Monmouth’s Dylan Schulte put one away (10:22) to close the gap to one, 2-1, in favor of the Crimson and Gray. Rastivo then scored on a feed from senior midfielder Jason Kelly (7:34) to put the Hawks back ahead by two, 3-1, to close out the first-quarter scoring.
Monmouth’s Griffin Figel scored just minutes into the second quarter (12:17) to inch the home Hawks back to within one, 3-2, and Monmouth found itself with an extra-man opportunity after SJU was hit with an unnecessary roughness call at the 10:21 mark.
However, SJU’s defense forced a Monmouth shot wide before Adler was called upon to make his seventh save of the game. Senior midfielder Davis Stoner scooped up the ground ball off of Adler's save and initiated a successful SJU clear attempt to kill off the Monmouth EMO.
At the other end of that clear attempt, Rastivo scored his second of the game (8:31) to give the Hawks a 4-2 edge midway through the second quarter.
SJU won the following possession on a Monmouth face-off violation, and after a Blewitt shot was saved by Monmouth goalkeeper Noah Lode, Saint Joseph’s graduate student midfielder Will McNamara scooped up the ground ball to regain possession for the Hawks; 57 seconds later, senior midfielder Kyle Cain put away his third of the season (6:50) to put the Hawks up by three, 5-2.
Monmouth’s Dan Bloodgood scored (5:46) to chip back for the home Hawks, but Blewitt and Stoner teamed up for back-to-back SJU scores (5:05, 0:00) to give SJU its biggest lead of the game up to that point, 7-3, entering the halftime break; on the latter of the two goals, Stoner gained possession after an Austin Smith shot ricocheted off the post with two ticks on the scoreboard and found Blewitt as time expired.
Adler made 10 saves in the first half and blanked Monmouth’s offense in the final 3:10 with three stops.
Saint Joseph’s owned the third quarter, ripping off three goals from freshman midfielder Evan Campbell (4:22), senior midfielder Hayes McGinley (3:48), and senior attackman Patrick O’Brien (1:53) and blanking Monmouth’s offense as SJU only allowed two shots on goal, both saved by Adler.
Monmouth scored twice in the fourth quarter (13:51, 8:36) to close its deficit to five, 10-5, but sophomore midfielder Nicholas Vernacchio dished out his first collegiate assist to O’Brien, who put away SJU’s 11th goal of the day (5:40) to extend its lead to six, 11-5.
For the game, Saint Joseph’s owned a 36-34 edge in shots, propelled by an 11-4 first-quarter advantage. SJU also owned a 27-15 advantage in ground balls and turned the ball over just seven times for the game; Jardeleza recorded a game-high five ground balls while Stoner (4), McNamara (3), and sophomore defenseman Tyler Makar (3) added strong ground-ball performances.
“That is a though Monmouth team,” added Wray. “They are well-coached, and they play really hard. The two stats that stick out most to me are ground balls and [limiting our] turnovers. I think those were a big part of our victory.”
For the fourth game in a row, Adler (1-3) made double-digit saves with 13 in 57:42 for his first collegiate victory. Senior goalkeeper Pat Dallon came in for the final 2:18, making a save with 15 ticks left on the scoreboard.
Saint Joseph’s returns home for a pair of games this week. The Hawks will first host Drexel (2-3) this Tuesday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. before hosting NJIT (0-8) this Friday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Both games will be played on Sweeney Field.
GAME NOTES: Saint Joseph’s improves to 5-0 all-time vs. Monmouth, having won each game since the first meeting in 2014... Sophomore midfielder Nicholas Vernacchio made his first collegiate start... Senior attackman Patrick O’Brien made his first start of the season... Freshman midfielder Evan Campbell recorded his first collegiate point on his first collegiate goal, in the third quarter... Vernacchio recorded his first collegiate point on his first collegiate assist, in the fourth quarter... With five points, four goals, and one assist, senior attackman Chris Blewitt moves into sole possession of 10th in career assists (51), remains 10th in career points (127), and sits just nine goals shy (76) of breaking into the top-ten in career goals at SJU... With two goals, graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo remains third in career goals (111), just two shy of Chris McIsaac's 113 career goals and nine shy of Randy McNeill's program-record 120 career goals... With those two points, Rastivo moves into a tie for sixth, with McNeill, for career points at SJU (161)... With five shots, Rastivo remains fifth in career shots (291) at SJU.