Manhattan Gets Blanked By Pacific In Penultimate Tune-Up to MAAC Season

by Pete Janny & Anna WoodsAsst. Sports Editor & Staff Writer

Ws: Manhattan 0, PACIFIC, 1

Coming off last Friday’s much-needed 1-0 win over Saint Francis, the Jaspers looked to make it two wins in a row when the University of Pacific (2-5) came to Gaelic Park last Friday night for the first ever meeting between the two schools.

There were a lot of positive takeaways from the team’s win over Saint Francis, however, the team did very little to assuage concerns about their recent offensive struggles with the Jaspers only scoring once on 21 shots. This match-up against a Tigers team that had limped out to a 1-5 start to their season presented a great opportunity for the Jaspers to start making strides on the offensive end.

However, despite another solid defensive effort, Manhattan’s offense fell flat on its face in what ended up resulting in a 1-0 loss for the home team.

The first half was uneventful for the most part with neither team able to break down each other’s defense. Unsurprisingly, the Manhattan defense was solid yet again as they thwarted the Pacific attack numerous times throughout the first half.

However, due to the minimal help given from the offense, the Manhattan defense was only able to do so much to keep the Tigers offense scoreless. After earning a multitude of free kicks as the half wore on, Pacific took advantage of their best chance of the night in the 15th minute when Kelsey Oen headed a ball past Camryn Nici off of an Isabella Pariente cross from the right sideline.

The first half shot count was the perfect indicator of just how mundane the opening 45 minutes were with the Tigers outpacing the Jaspers by a meager 6-1 tally. The lone Manhattan shot came in the 20th minute when sophomore Olivia Maldonado skied a towering shot from outside the box that was easily hauled in by the Pacific goalie.

At the half, head coach Brendan Lawler touted his team’s defensive play, but was left desiring more out of his offense.

“It was a strong defensive effort,” Lawler said during a half-time interview with Go Jaspers. “We just need to get the ball a little bit quicker to move up the field.”

The second half was awfully similar to the first with the exception of an uptick in shots by Pacific.

Pacific’s best chance of the second half came in the 55th minute when Jenae Packard tried her luck with a shot from outside the box that forced Nici to push the ball out of bounds for a corner kick. Although the Tigers would fail to add to their lead, they still outshot Manhattan 9-2 in the second half.

Two minutes earlier, junior Bri DeLeo almost tied the score when she fired a shot from outside the box that drilled the crossbar before going back onto the field of play. The sequence would culminate with a Lindsey Healy goal that was called off due to her offsides positioning. Despite those two bad breaks, the sequence was far and away Manhattan’s best of the night.

Nici starred for Manhattan in this one, contributing eight saves that helped keep the Jaspers in striking distance. In her first season as a full-time starter, Nici has arguably been the team’s most reliable player while also serving as one the team’s three captains.

Despite ultimately falling short, Manhattan played a commendable second half in terms of the amount of energy and fight they showed. The Jaspers can take solace in the fact that this game, like all the others they’ve played so far, has no bearing on their position in the MAAC standings.

Manhattan will now hit the road for a date with Merrimack on Sunday, September 22 before kicking off their MAAC season against Canisius on Saturday, September 28th at Gaelic Park. Kick-off for that home game is scheduled for 12 pm.