PHILADELPHIA – For the second time in the last three contests, the Hawks hit the back of the net four times as the Saint Joseph's men's soccer squad earned a 4-1 win over Sacred Heart on Saturday evening on Sweeney Field. With the win in a physical match that saw nine total cards and 36 fouls, the Hawks improve to 3-2-0 overall, including 2-0-0 at home, while the Pioneers fall to 1-2-1.
Saint Joseph's took advantage of an SHU red card inside the 18 to get onto the scoreboard first. Freshman midfielder Garrett Lyons drew the foul while battling for position near the endline, and junior forward Leon Maric converted the PK in the 31st minute for his third goal of the season.
Sacred Heart's Segundo Navarro responded in the 36th minute, blasting a shot from 18 yards out and hitting the bottom-left corner for the equalizer.
Tied 1-1 coming out of the halftime break, the Hawks took full advantage of SHU's 10-man situation and hit the back of the net three times in a span of 17:10.
"They were creative and skillful, and we were giving them too much space in the beginning in the first half," said head coach Don D'Ambra of Sacred Heart. We just regrouped at halftime and tried to make the defensive adjustments and get a little bit tighter on their skilled guys. Once we shut those guys down, we just opened it up a little bit."
Senior defender Eddie McCusker got the second-half scoring started as the captain beat his defender at midfield and launched a pass up to sophomore midfielder Alvin Dahn, who was streaking up the left wing. Dahn shed his defender and put away his third goal of the season for the 2-1 advantage in the 53rd minute.
Just under six minutes later, Dahn's fancy footwork evaded a pair of defenders on the left side, and the sophomore found sophomore defender David Grana open at the top of the box. Grana would make no mistake of his opportunity and put his first collegiate goal into the bottom-left corner in the 59th minute.
"Alvin really created out there and did some good stuff," added D'Ambra of his sophomore midfielder that has factored into six of SJU's last eight scoring plays.
Sophomore midfielder Ritchie Barry would get in on the scoring action with the Hawks' fourth goal of the night. Sophomore midfielder Alan Kahlenbeck began the scoring play by intercepting an SHU pass; the ball richocheted up to freshman forward Frantz Pierrot, who was able to bring Pioneer goalkeeper Robert Strain off his line. Pierrot dished off to a trailing Barry, who tucked away his first goal of the season easily in the 70th minute.
"I really like how we kept our composure," said McCusker of the team's overall performance. "We got a little rattled when Sacred Heart tied it up, but we came together and played as a team. We knew that we had an advantage with an extra guy, and I'm really proud of our guys just fighting back and getting a win. We work so hard and this year, we're scoring goals. We've found the confidence and trust in one another. I think this team is firing right now because of that trust."
Freshman goalkeeper Joseph Boehm (3-2-0) made two saves in the full 90:00 as SJU's defense allowed just three total shots on goal for the match.
A season-high 21 Hawks saw playing time; senior midfielder Kyle Millar made his season debut while redshirt freshman defender Jack Hirschfield and freshman defender James McCombs made their collegiate debuts.
"[The way we played] gave us a chance to get some guys in the game," added D'Ambra. "It was a good win. For us to get four goals again, we have guys that can score. It's something that has been missing. This early in the year, being 3-2-0, we feel like we're getting better and smarter. We feel good with where we are at."
Saint Joseph's remains home to host Navy (1-4-1) this Tuesday, September 11. Opening kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field.
MATCH NOTES: Saint Joseph's earns its first win against Sacred Heart in program history as the series record evens out at 1-1... With their third win of the season, the Hawks match their total number of wins from the entire 2017 campaign... The Hawks have scored eight of their 12 goals at home this fall.