STANDISH, Maine – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (15-3) defeated #3 Johnson & Wales University (14-7-1), 4-2, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Soccer Tournament semifinal contest at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday evening.
With the score tied 1-1 and the clock nearing the 70th minute, senior Emily Thornton (Westbrook, Maine) netted three goals in a matter of eight minutes to lift the Monks to what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's advances to the GNAC Championship game, for the first time in 12 seasons as a member of the conference, and will travel to Newton, Massachusetts on Saturday for a 1:00 PM title bout with top-seeded Lasell College. The Lasers, winners of eight-consecutive GNAC Championships, defeated #4 Emmanuel College, 1-0, in overtime in the other semifinal earlier today.
With the loss, the 2018 season comes to a close for Johnson & Wales.
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The Monks found the board first when in the 11th minute sophomore Madeline Wood (Madison, Maine) potted her second goal of the season after cleaning up a rebound off a Haley DaGraca (Saco, Maine) shot.
The 1-0 edge remained until the 24:07 mark, when JWU senior Deja Hursey (Columbia, Md.) hit pay dirt off a Jordan Restivo (Utica, N.Y.) pass.
After nearly 45 minutes of scoreless play Thornton – who entered the game just five minutes earlier – potted her first goal of the afternoon at the 67:47 mark following a scrum in the Wildcats' goalmouth with freshman Emma Auclair (Kittery, Maine) earning the assist.
Senior Colleen Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) set up the Monks' third goal with an impressive individual effort, as she chased down a pass near the end line and delivered a crisp right-to-left cross to Thornton, who was stationed near the left goalpost and one-timed a shot into the netting to make it a 3-1 game.
In the 76th minute, Thornton capped her first collegiate hat trick with a header that floated over the head of JWU keeper Colleen Lynch (New Milford, Conn.). Sophomore Peggy Balboni (Millis, Mass.) set up the strike with a well-placed free kick from about 35 yards out on the right side of the field.
Hursey netted her second tally of the afternoon, and seventh of the season, at the 78:50 mark, but the Wildcats mustered just one shot on net in the closing 11 minutes and were unable to close the gap.
SJC freshman Adia Grogan (Kennebunk, Maine) registered 10 saves in the victory while Lynch turned away a pair of shots in the setback.
Johnson & Wales held advantages in shots (20-15), shots on goal (12-6), and corner kicks (6-0) in a losing effort.
Saint Joseph's is now 4-7-4 all-time versus Johnson & Wales University and has now defeated the Wildcats in consecutive meetings for the first time in the history of the matchup. The Monks defeated the Wildcats, 1-0 in overtime, in this year's regular-season meeting in Providence.