STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's College (2-2-1) defeated University of Southern Maine (0-4-1), 3-0, in a non-conference men's soccer match at Westerlea Way Field on Wednesday afternoon. Senior forward Zach Johnson (Westbrook, Maine) netted the game-winning goal and sophomore keeper Scott Benner (Post Falls, Idaho) recorded four saves in the contest, which took place on one of the hottest September afternoons in recent memory.
With the victory, fifth-year Head Coach Steve Babineau becomes the winningest coach in Saint Joseph's men's soccer history. Babineau, now 46-34-6 (.575) in his brief head coaching career, supplants former SJC bench general Bob Bourget, who recorded a 45-56-6 (.446) record during six seasons at the helm, as the most successful head coach in the 24-year history of the program.
Looking to notch consecutive wins for the first time this fall, the Monks held the ball for much of the first half and capitalized on the possession advantage by scoring a pair of goals in the first 29 minutes of play. Collecting a long lead from Kyle Shangraw (Westbrook, Maine), Johnson slipped USM starting keeper Adam Verreault (Poland, Maine) and booted an odd-angle shot from the right into a wide-open net in the eighth minute of play.
Freshman forward Victor Santos (Framingham, Mass.) netted his first collegiate marker just over 20 minutes later to lift the hosts to a 2-0 cushion. Having entered the game in the 21st minute, Santos dangled his way past a Southern Maine defender in the left corner and delivered a low liner past a diving Verrault with 16:30 left in the opening half.
With the temperature – which touched the low 90's – clearly playing a factor, the Monks held sizeable leads in both shots (10-6) and corners (4-0) in the first frame but sent just three shots on target before the break.
The second stanza featured much more balanced play as the Huskies routinely featured a more offensive set and notched several scoring chances as a result. One of the visitors' best opportunities occurred when sophomore Michael Daniel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) found a seam down the left side of the field and took a shot towards the lower right corner, but Benner thwarted the attempt with a diving stab to keep the shutout intact.
Sophomore midfielder Luke Pugsley (Kennebunk, Maine) registered perhaps the Huskies top scoring chance when he clanged a kick off the crossbar from near the 18 in the 63rd minute.
Nearly 25 minutes of mostly-midfield play ensued before the Monks added to their lead when senior Fabrice Iraduha (Portland, Maine) potted his second goal of the season off a beautiful feed from Shangraw with 2:21 remaining. Shangraw, streaking through the heart of the box, found his classmate with a touch pass to the right and Iraduha finished the drive with a laser to the top right corner of the net to cap the game scoring.
The Huskies saw fit to split time in goal, as Verreault and freshman Matthew Willis (Standish, Maine) made a save apiece in a losing effort.
Overall, Saint Joseph's held advantages in shots (15-10) and corner kicks (6-1) while USM was flagged for 11 fouls and the hosts were slapped with six infractions during the in-state rivalry match.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 10-11-3 in the history of the series with University of Southern Maine. The Monks have now defeated the Huskies in five straight meetings dating back to the 2009 campaign, with three of the wins being of the shutout variety.
Saint Joseph's kicks off Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play this Saturday when the SJC side travels to Boston for a 7:00 PM showdown with Suffolk University. Southern Maine will host Worcester State University this Saturday at 3:30 PM.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 430-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.