GORHAM, ME - Down by two with 17 minutes remaining, Saint Joseph's (1-0) managed to net three unanswered goals in a matter of seven minutes to tip University of Southern Maine (0-1) by a 3-2 margin in the first game of the USM Soccer Classic at Hannaford Field on Friday afternoon.
Junior forward Ross Suleski (Amesbury, Mass./St. Thomas Aquinas) had a hand in all three goals, scoring the first two markers of the match and assisting on the game-winner, which was scored by freshman midfielder Ralph Houanche (Portland, Maine) in the 81st minute.
The Huskies struck with an early goal in each half, as sophomore forward Mazen Aljari (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) found the back of the net off a Michael Daniel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) feed at the 13:29 mark and Luke Pugsley (Kennebunk, Maine) tallied an unassisted marker just 52 seconds into the second stanza to push the Monks' deficit to two goals.
Suleski, a team tri-captain this fall, showed real leadership as he put the Monks' on his back and on the scoreboard with a pair of goals just 5:41 apart to knot the game at two-apiece. Sophomore midfielder Jason Wade (South Hampton, N.H.) was credited with an assist on the Monks' first goal of the season, scored at the 73:16 mark, and freshman midfielder Paulo Lopes (Gloucester, Mass.) set up Suleski's second marker at the 78:57 stamp.
The deadlock would not linger long as Houanche managed to produce his first NCAA goal - and a memorable one at that - only 1:36 after Suleski's game-tying tally. Suleski padded his stat line further after recording an assist on the play.
In goal, junior Kenny Grade (Hampton, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas) made three stops while his counterpart, USM freshman netminder Korey Mulherin (Leeds, Maine) posted five saves in a losing effort.
Saint Joseph's held a 13-9 advantage in shots, including a 7-4 lead in the second stanza, while Southern Maine notched an 8-5 cushion in corner kicks on the afternoon.
With the victory, St. Joe's improves to 9-11-3 in the history of the series with University of Southern Maine and has now defeated the Huskies in four consecutive meetings dating back to the 2009 campaign. The four-game win streak is the longest the Monks have posted against Southern Maine in the 23-year history of the matchup.
Both teams resume play in the USM Soccer Classic on Saturday, as Saint Joseph's faces UMass.-Dartmouth at 2:00 PM and Southern Maine takes on Coast Guard Academy at 4:00 PM.
Saint Joseph's College, founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy, celebrates its Centennial year in 2012 with a theme of "Realize the Promise" – honoring our commitment to educating well-rounded graduates who combine career focus with classic liberal arts studies. A Private, Catholic, primarily residential, coeducational liberal arts institution, Saint Joseph's welcomes students of all ages and all faiths. The campus, located 18 miles northwest of Portland and just two hours from Boston, encompasses 350 acres along the shore of beautiful Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine. Enrollment ranges between 1,000 and 1,100 students annually. Saint Joseph's offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing and business fields in a value-centered environment.