GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #5 Univ. of Saint Joseph (CT) @ #4 Saint Joseph's

GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #5 Univ. of Saint Joseph (CT) @ #4 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – #4 Saint Joseph's College (12-5-1, 7-3-1 GNAC) will host #5 University of Saint Joseph (CT) (9-5-1, 7-4-0 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Soccer Tournament Quarterfinal game at 1:00 PM on Saturday.


Sunday's winner advances to the semifinal round of the GNAC tourney and will face the victor of the #8 Suffolk University / #1 Lasell College quarterfinal on Tuesday.

The other arm of the bracket features quarterfinal contests between #2 Johnson & Wales University and #7 Albertus Magnus College and #3 Emmanuel College versus #6 Simmons College.

The winner of the GNAC Championship game, set to be played on Saturday, November 4th, earns an automatic berth into the 2017 NCAA DIII Women's Soccer Championship, which begins on November 11th.


Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks head into the tournament as the conference leader in shots (367), shots on goal (197), and home attendance (1,665) and rank second in the GNAC in goals (44), shots per game (20.4), and assists (29).
  • Saint Joseph's is also third in corner kicks (91), goals against average (1.04) and shutouts (3) this fall.
  • Saint Joseph's is 5-1-1 at the SJC Athletics Complex this fall with the Monks' only loss being a 4-2 setback at the hands of UMaine-Fort Kent on October 22nd.
  • St. Joe's has outscored opponents by a collective 19-4 score on the new turf with four of the five wins being of the shutout variety.

University of Saint Joseph:

  • The Blue Jays rank third in the GNAC in shot percentage (.153), fifth in shots per game (17) and assists (27), and sixth in shots (255), goals (39), shots on goal (140), SOG percentage (.549), and shutouts (4)
  • USJ is 4-3 in road contests and has outscored their hosts by a collective 12-10 score this fall


Saint Joseph's:

  • Junior forward Haley DaGraca (Saco, Maine), the reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Year and two-time First Team All-GNAC honoree, is having another fine season for the Monks. She ranks second in the conference in goals (16) and points (35) and fourth in game-winners (4)
  • Junior Colleen Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) has been a big contributor this year, especially late in the season, with three goals and seven assists for 13 total points
  • Freshman Brenna Smith (Maynard, Mass.) has played an important role off the bench with five goals and 11 total points and was named as the GNAC Rookie of the Week last week
  • Senior Emily DeLuca (Gorham, Maine), an All-Conference defender, has added some offensive punch for the Monks this fall with four goals and two assists for 10 points

University of Saint Joseph:

  • Senior forward Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, Conn.), a 2016 Third Team All-GNAC selection, is in the midst of a tremendous season for the Blue Jays, as she leads the conference in assists (11) and ranks second in points (35), shots (82), and game-winners (5)
  • Junior midfielder Amanda Ghent (Portland, Conn.) has netted 11 goals with four assists for 26 total points
  • Junior midfielder Sarah Palko (Southington, Conn.) enters tourney play with eight goals and 17 total points


Saint Joseph's: Senior Brooke Troup (East Bridgewater, Mass.) is having another solid season with a 1.01 goals against average and a .783 save percentage with 65 saves in 1,605 minutes in net. A two-time All-GNAC honoree, she leads the conference in shutouts (6) and minutes and third in goals against average.

Troup ranks among the Monks' career leaders in games (71, 3rd), minutes (5,806, 4th), goals against average (1.41, 9th), saves (327, 4th), wins (35, 5th), and shutouts (15, 5th).

University of Saint Joseph: Sophomore Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) is also having an impressive season with a 1.31 goals against average and an .808 save percentage with 80 stops in 1,303 minutes between the pipes. She is currently third in the GNAC in save percentage and fifth in goals against average.


Saint Joseph's Head Coach Jenelle Harris, now in her fifth season at the helm, is 53-34-7 (.609) overall with a 33-17-5 (.660) record in conference play as the Monks' skipper. Last fall, the two-time GNAC Coach of the Year honoree led the Monks to the conference tournament semifinals with a 3-1 quarterfinal win over Simmons College, the program's first postseason triumph since the 2009 campaign.

University of Saint Joseph Head Coach Kelly Shimmin, now in her third year, owns a 25-23-4 (.521) record, including a 17-14-2 (.515) mark in GNAC play, as the Blue Jays' clipboard carrier. She has guided her team to a postseason appearance all three years, including a trip to the semifinals in 2015.


At home on September 30th, the Monks tipped the Blue Jays by a 2-1 score in overtime. Sophomore Hannah Butler (Melrose, Mass.) netted the game-winner off a DaGraca pass in the 99th minute after SJC freshman Kenzie Murphy (West Baldwin, Maine) and Spezzano swapped scores in a matter of five minutes in the second half.

In net, Troup made six saves while Ricci tallied 11 stops in a losing effort. Saint Joseph's posted advantages in shots (27-13) and shots on goal (14-7) while both teams were awarded three corner kicks in the conference contest.


Saint Joseph's is 6-3-3 in the history of the series with University of Saint Joseph and tied the Blue Jays, 2-2, in the 2016 meeting.


The Monks have advanced to the GNAC postseason in 10 of 11 seasons and have advanced to the GNAC semifinal round on three occasions, including last fall when the team fell to eventual conference champion Lasell College, 5-1, on November 2nd.

The Blue Jays will be making their 20th appearance in the GNAC Tournament, having only missed the postseason twice (1998, 1999) since the conference was founded in 1996. USJ has advanced to the semifinal round 10 times, with the most recent second-round appearance occurring in 2015 when the Blue Jays suffered a shootout loss at the hands of perennial favorite Lasell College.

University of Saint Joseph and Saint Joseph's have met once in the postseason: the top-seeded Blue Jays blanked the eighth-seeded Monks, 2-0, in a 2009 GNAC Tournament quarterfinal on October 28th, 2012 in West Hartford.