MANHATTAN: 2, SAINT PETER’S: 0
by PETE JANNY, Asst. Sports Editor
When the Manhattan College women’s soccer team (4-11-2, 3-5-2 MAAC) took the field last Wednesday night against Saint Peter’s (3-13-1, 1-8-1 MAAC), the only thing that mattered was finishing the season off on a good note. Before the game even started, Manhattan was forced to accept the reality that for the second straight year they were not going to be involved in the annual MAAC tournament that takes place each November. The final blow to their postseason ambitions came on October 26th when they suffered a 2-1 loss to Marist in double overtime to conclude their road schedule. In what was a quintessential MAAC heartbreak, Manhattan’s hard work was not rewarded with the stroke of luck needed to escape Poughkeepsie with a win. Having engaged in numerous close battles over the course of the season, Manhattan ended up experiencing more painful losses than they deserved. However, on this night, the team made sure to leave it all out on the field ahead of what will probably feel like a long offseason.
It was evident from the outset of this game that Manhattan looked far more relaxed and confident than usual. Against a team of Saint Peter’s stature, Manhattan had no trouble dictating the pace of the game.
After an encouraging opening 20 minutes of play from the Jaspers, the team got on the board in the 24th minute thanks to the elite playmaking ability of junior Bri DeLeo. In what was the highlight of the game, DeLeo successfully infiltrated the left side of Saint Peter’s box in the 25 minute by using her dribbling skills to beat two defenders before picking out classmate Shelby Jones in traffic in the box for an easy finish. It was without a doubt one of the more memorable goals the team scored this season and it was all made possible by two players who will be expected to big play roles next season. On the statistical side of things, the assist gave DeLeo a team-best three helpers on the season, while the goal upped Jones’s goal total to three on the season.
At the end of the first 45 minutes, Manhattan was in control with a 1-0 lead. Both teams were deadlocked at 8 apiece in shots, which was in no way indicative of the first-half storyline. The final 45 minutes represented the team’s last chance to make themselves proud in 2019.
A few minutes into the second half, DeLeo picked up right where she left off.
In the 52nd minute, the junior midfielder again wreaked havoc on the left side. After managing to beat her defender coming down the left side, DeLeo fired a shot from a tough position next to the end line that hit the hands of the goalie before ending up in the back of the net. The goal was no fluke with DeLeo yet again flashing her offensive prowess before putting enough power on her shot to overwhelm the keeper.
Now up 2-0, the score would remain unchanged with Manhattan cruising the rest of the way.
Making the win feel extra sweet, the combined efforts of senior goalies Olivia Printy and Camryn Nici yielded a shutout to cap off respectable careers from both players. Printy was deployed for the first 45 minutes, while Nici had the honor of closing things out by playing the last 45 minutes. When it was all said and done, both players had combined for six saves with each chipping in three.
The look of the final box score summed up just how dominant Manhattan was with the team registering advantages in shots, 19-12, and shots on goal, 8-6.
Another cool take away from this game was Manhattan’s continued dominance over Saint Peter’s. With the win, the Jaspers improved to 26-3 in the all-time series between the schools with the Jaspers taking the last 22 of the match-ups.
Heading into the offseason, Manhattan can take solace in the fact that 100 percent of the team’s scoring from this year will be back as DeLeo, Jones, and Arianna Montefusco will all be seniors. In addition, current sophomore goalie Kim Mains will look to use her five-game experience from this season to help guide her in net next year. Although it’s still too early to come to a conclusion, Mains enters the offseason as the favorite to land the starting job for next season.
With the senior class on the way out, head coach Brendan Lawler reflected on their immeasurable contributions.
“I think about players who worked hard every single day to get better,” Lawler said when asked about the legacy of the program’s class of 2020 during a postgame interview with Go Jaspers. “That’s what we ask of everyone so it means a lot to the program as a whole.”
Although he probably hasn’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about next year just yet, Lawler did hint at the expectations moving forward.
“We have a lot of players coming back. We are losing two senior goalkeepers, but Kim Mains proved this year she will be able to step right in for us next year. We are returning all of our goal scorers from this year which is obviously huge and shows we have a lot of experience returning,” Lawler said in a postgame interview with Go Jaspers.