STANDISH, Maine – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (16-1-3) edged #3 Norwich University (14-4-1), 3-2, in an evenly-matched Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's soccer tournament semifinal at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday evening.
With the victory, the Monks continue their quest to win a fourth-consecutive conference crown and will play at top-seeded Johnson & Wales University in the 2019 GNAC Championship on Saturday at 1:00 PM. The Wildcats defeated #4 University of Saint Joseph, 3-1, in the other semifinal contest tonight to set up a rematch of the 2018 GNAC title bout, which the Monks won by a 1-0 score in Standish.
For Norwich, the loss signals the end of the 2019 season.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Cadets applied most of the offensive pressure early and grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 26:23 mark when Amerle Nemeye netted his 10th goal of the season on a penalty kick attempt, which was the result of an unlucky handball call in the box on senior Mitchell Duncan (Sanford, Maine).
The Monks answered 11 minutes later when Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine) punched home his second goal of the season off a Kuma Onyejose (East Greenwich, R.I.) pass. The play began with a long throw-in from the left side by senior Jackson Taylor (Gorham, Maine) with the ball being collected by Onyejose, who made a quick dish to Elliott and the senior chipped a close shot past Norwich keeper Robert Wagenseller (Poway, Calif.), knotting the game at 1-1.
The seesaw battle continued in the second half, as the Cadets regained the lead in the 60th minute when freshman Joseph Thongsyhavong (Salem, Mass.) picked up a rebound and tapped in his 11th tally of the year. SJC junior goalie David Walbridge (Hampden, Mass.) stopped the initial shot, taken by Nemeye, but the ball popped loose and Thongsyhavong was on the spot to knock it in.
St. Joe's answered again just over four minutes later when another hand ball foul in the box was called at the 63:43 mark. Taylor stepped to the line to take the PK shot and buried the attempt to the upper left corner, tying the game at 2-2.
The PK tally seemed to ignite the Monks' ambitions and a counterattack 14 minutes later proved to be the difference, as junior Noah Elmore (Berlin, Vt.) potted the eventual game-winner at the 77:20 mark. Taylor set up the strike with a perfect deep lead pass down the right side of the field with Elmore, Wagenseller, and a Norwich defender converging on the ball at the same time near the top right corner of the box. Just before the trio collided, Elmore managed to kick a chip shot over Wagenseller and the ball slowly bounced into a wide open net to cap the game scoring.
Walbridge made four saves in the SJC victory while Wagenseller turned away a pair of shots in the Norwich setback.
Norwich held the lead in shots (10-8), shots on goal (6-5), and corner kicks (9-2) in the losing effort.
Saint Joseph's is now 10-4-5 all-time versus Norwich University with tonight's victory extending the Monks' undefeated streak versus the Cadets to eight games. The five-goal output is tied for the most goals scored collectively by the conference rivals; the last time five goals were registered occurred when the Monks defeated the Cadets by a 4-1 margin on November 5th, 2011.