STANDISH, ME – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's (12-5, 7-3 GNAC) blanked #7 Suffolk University (5-13-1, 4-5-1 GNAC), 3-0, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's soccer tournament quarterfinal at Westerlea Way Field on Saturday afternoon.
With the tourney win, the Monks move on to the GNAC semifinal round and will host the victor of the #3 Emerson/#6 Emmanuel quarterfinal match, which will be played tomorrow, on Wednesday afternoon. For Suffolk, the 2011 campaign comes to a close with the setback.
The beginning of the match featured a frenetic pace with both teams posting solid scoring chances and minimal play occurring in the heart of the pitch.
Zach Johnson '14 (Westbrook, Maine) lifted the hosts to an early lead when he netted his first of two scores in the victory at the 4:01 mark. Senior back Zak Hollingshead (Westerly, R.I.) set up the game's first goal with a perfect lead pass and Johnson finished with a kick over the head of Rams keeper James Potter '15 (North Kingston, R.I.) to the top right corner of the net.
The Rams notched perhaps their best scoring opportunity exactly eight minutes later. Senior midfielder Danny Lloyd (Tegucigalpa, Honduras) worked his way through the middle of the field and unleashed a bending shot from just inside the 18. The boot appeared to be headed for the bottom right corner of the net, but SJC netminder Kenny Grade '14 (Hampton, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas) made a terrific diving stop and punched the ball beyond the backline.
Suffolk narrowly missed on another opportunity to knot the match when Ben Rollins '13 (Lee, N.H.) clanged a shot off the crossbar on a perfectly placed corner at the 34:13 mark.
St. Joe's managed to break through with another goal just over two minutes later when senior midfielder Mike Sanfilippo (Walpole, Mass.) registered his sixth tally of the season and 10th of his career. Calvin Servaes '14 (Hull, Mass.), who entered the game as a substitute less than a minute earlier, made the play happen with a slick right to left cross pass and Sanfilippo converted the feed into a goal with a one-time shot to the bottom left corner of the net.
The final goal of the game, scored in the 61st minute, was one of the finest netted by the Royal Blue this season from a passing standpoint. After a Suffolk foul, junior back Jack LaFreniere (Alton, N.H.) took a throw in from the right side at the 18. His well-placed toss was flicked on with a header by Ross Suleski '14 (Amesbury, Mass./St. Thomas Aquinas) right to the foot of a streaking Johnson, who tapped the ball into the left corner of the net for his second goal of the afternoon. In a somewhat rare occurrence, LaFreniere and Suleski were both credited with assists on the play.
The Monks' third score seemed to remove the wind from the Rams' sails as the visitors did not record a shot for the remainder of the match.
Grade made six saves to post his fifth shutout of the year while Potter made seven stops in a losing bid.
Saint Joseph's held a 20-12 advantage in shots and a 5-4 edge in corner kicks in the victory. With the win the Monks improve to 3-3 in the history of the series with the Rams.
With his second goal of the game Johnson moved into a tie for the second-highest single-season tally total in program history. His 15 goals equals the amount netted by Doug MacCallum '10 during the 2008 campaign and is just one less than the team record posted by Jesse Beer during the 2000 season.
Johnson has been on a torrid scoring pace of late with 10 goals, including three braces, in the last seven games.