Aug 18, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - The Seton Hall women's soccer team looked to be in mid-season form on Sunday afternoon as the Pirates found the back of the net five times during a commanding performance against visiting Rider, finishing as 5-1 victors.
After outscoring Drexel 4-1 in three 30-minute periods in earlier in the week, The Hall put the finishing touches on the lead-up to the 2013 season by making the lion's share of possession count against the Broncs in a more conventional two 45-minute halves format.
Though SHU kept the visitors pinned down in their own end for the better part of the opening quarter-hour, it was Rider who broke through first when they took advantage of a counter attack, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute against the run of play.
The lead was short lived however as three minutes, later the same duo that linked up to get Seton Hall on the board in the opener against Drexel combined to provide the first of what would be five unanswered goals for the hosts.
The initial response came when senior midfielder Ashley Clarke (Paramus, N.J.) found freshman Frankie Maier (Oradell, N.J.) who worked into space on the left side of the area and let go a shot that nestled into the bottom right corner, pulling the Pirates level at 1-1.
SHU continued to apply consistent pressure on the Rider goal and nearly moved ahead in the 24th minute when a right-footed effort from Meghan Hayes (Fredon, N.J.) sailed just high. Just before the half-hour mark Hayes would again prove too much for the Rider defense to handle, this time finding the final touch that had previously eluded her. Soon after drawing a foul in Rider's defensive half, Hayes eventually got on the end of a set-piece that originated with a well-placed ball from sophomore D'Yonna Riley (Washingtonville, N.Y.) and redirected it near post past the Rider keeper, putting the Pirates on top for good.
It is the second goal in as many outings for Hayes who has two career goals to her name entering the new year.
Seton Hall would add another tally before the intermission on a great display of individual skill from Clarke as the Paramus native carried the ball through the attacking third, leaving a number of Rider defenders in her wake before picking her spot and slotting one home just inside the left post from the right side of the box.
Clarke hasn't shown any signs of skipping a beat after finishing 2012 as the Pirates leading scorer, orchestrating many of the squad's opportunities through the two exhibition matches.
Following the break, the Pirates had a number of opportunities to extend the lead that fell just short. Two of the more notable chances finished with an attempt at goal from newcomers who will make their collegiate debuts when the regular season gets underway later this week.
In the 50th minute, freshman Sarah Cortes (Paramus, N.J.), who has looked menacing in her first two appearances in a Pirate uniform, unleashed a shot that went just outside of the right post. Nearly 20 minutes later, it was Maier threatening again when she lined up a loose ball near the top of the box and fired a shot on target, but right at the Rider keeper.
Senior Katie Ritter (Hagerstown, Md.) found a second gear after re-entering the game as a substitute in the final frame, putting the defense on notice when she broke through the back line to create a point blank opportunity that was ultimately denied. Undeterred, Ritter kept working up to the final ticks; finally breaking through with just over three minutes to go to increase the lead to 4-1. The Hagerstown product made it a double before the final whistle, taking full advantage of a defensive lapse in the 89th minute to put the garnish on an impressive preseason showing that saw SHU outscore its opponents 9-2 over 180 minutes of action.
While the attacking effort has turned heads, a stout defensive presence spearheaded by Hayes, Riley, Emily Hansinger (Mount Laurel, N.J.) and Alexis Urbanski (Aberdeen, N.J.) has severely limited the number of quality looks at the Pirates net.
Between the posts, freshman goalkeeper Illissa Blackshear (West Orange, N.J.) entered the game in the second half to spell senior captain Jennifer Pettigrew (Kearny, N.J.) and logged a scoreless 25 minutes in her first action as a Pirate.
Next time the Pirates take the field it will be for real as Friday night's match against Stony Brook marks the start of the 2013 season, the 20th in program history. Start-time between SHU and SBU is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., the nightcap of a doubleheader at Owen T. Carroll Field that will start with a men's soccer exhibition against TCNJ at 3:00 p.m.