PHILADELPHIA – Senior midfielder Matt Crawford converted a first-half penalty kick and the Hawks' defensive unit proved strong as the Saint Joseph's men's soccer squad battled to a 1-1 draw with Hartford in a rain-soaked, non-conference match on Sweeney Field on Tuesday evening. With the draw, SJU moves to 1-0-1 on the season while Hartford stands at 0-1-1.
"It was a good match tonight," said head coach Don D'Ambra. "Hartford came out with a lot of energy and high-pressed us right away. In the first half, they had momentum, won a lot of 50/50 balls, and created a lot of dangerous chances . . . We made some good adjustments at halftime and, in the second half, we were the aggressive team. It was a very even, very physical game. Both teams had opportunities to put the game away. It was a good, hard-fought match.
"Defensively, we've been steady, but offensively, we showed some good signs of progress. We need to keep developing and getting better on the offensive end, but there were some good ideas and some good things done, especially in the second half."
Freshman midfielder Ritchie Barry drew the foul inside the box at the 10:44 mark and Crawford tucked away his fourth goal of the season to put the home Hawks on the scoreboard in the 11th minute.
However, the visiting Hawks would respond on quick action inside the box as Hartford's Mike Barry took a shot that hit off the post and bounced back into play at the 28:35 mark. Altor Elena gained possession and fed Rasmus Karlsson, who headed his shot into the back of the net for the equalizer in the 29th minute.
In his first collegiate start and second collegiate appearance, senior goalkeeper Trevor Nicol made one save in the 57th minute and went on to have an outstanding second overtime; he came out to make a diving stop to regain possession for the Hawks with 5:50 to play and went on to make a save on Hartford's Andre Morrison in the 110th minute.
The back line of senior Ben Zambetti, junior Eddie McCusker, and freshmen David Grana and Daniel Morales played incredibly strong as a unit together, with Morales smothering Hartford's Fredrik Ekman on a near breakaway in the final five minutes of the second overtime to keep the match even. For the second consecutive match, rookies Ritchie Barry and Aidan Watkins added full-match efforts in the midfield.
Saint Joseph's opens road action this Saturday, September 2 at Quinnipiac (0-2-0). Kickoff at the QU Soccer Field in Hamden, Conn. is slated for 2:00 p.m. The Hawks return home next Wednesday, September 6 vs. Manhattan.
MATCH NOTES: Six of SJU's 11 starters were newcomers in freshman defenders David Grana and Daniel Morales, freshman midfielders Ritchie Barry, Alan Kahlenbeck (first collegiate start), and Aidan Watkins, and sophomore midfielder Dontrim Namani... Senior forward Isaac Agyapong played 23 minutes off the bench in his season debut... Redshirt freshman forward Jarod Ramses played 16 minutes off the bench in his collegiate debut and saw a good look on net that hit the post in the 39th minute... SJU moves to 1-1-1 all-time against Hartford and 1-0-1 under the direction of head coach Don D'Ambra... Senior midfielder Matt Crawford's score puts him at four goals on the season.
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