Ritter, Clarke Lead Hall Past #25 Butler; 3-1

Senior Ashley Clarke tied a season-high with three points (1G, 1A) in the win over Butler on Sunday

Senior Ashley Clarke tied a season-high with three points (1G, 1A) in the win over Butler on Sunday

Sept. 29, 2013

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – On what was a picturesque afternoon for soccer at Owen T. Carroll Field, a surging Seton Hall women’s soccer squad scored its third-consecutive victory as seniors Katie Ritter (Hagerstown, Md.) and Ashley Clarke (Paramus, N.J.) each found the back of the net to power the Pirates to a 3-1 win in their inaugural meeting with new conference foes #25 Butler.

The result was the first triumph for Seton Hall (4-5-2, 2-0-0) against a ranked team in over three years and the sixth in school history. The result also stretched SHIU’s home unbeaten streak to six on the season and gave The Hall its first 2-0 start in conference since 2011; a year in which the Pirates went on to qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament.

As was the case in a 1-0 victory over Providence three days earlier, Seton Hall dominated the run of play in the first half, generating far more scoring chances than the Bulldogs.

In the first 20 minutes, the Pirates outshot Butler, 3-0, and enjoyed the majority of possession. The initial breakthrough came in the 23rd minute when a misplay by Butler at the back allowed an opportunistic Clarke to pounce on a loose ball near the area. She carried toward the end-line and slotted a low cross into the path of an unmarked Ritter who was waiting at the back post to put the home team ahead.

The assist was Clarke’s sixth of the season, putting her just two shy of the school’s single-season record which she currently shares with Kelly Smith. The Paramus native also narrowed the gap between her and Smith on the all-time assists list; increasing her career total to 18, 14 of which have come over the last season and a half.

Smith recorded a program-best 22 assists for the Pirates as one of the premier offensive players in the nation from 1997-99.

It took Butler over 31 minutes to register its first shot attempt of the afternoon but Jennifer Pettigrew (Kearny, N.J.) was there to make her 50th save of the season and after a final 13 minutes that included one more stop from the SHU captain, Seton Hall took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

When play resumed, the Bulldogs settled in and maintained some possession of their own, recording the only two shot attempts in the first 15 minutes of the period.

In the 66th minute, a Seton Hall giveaway near midfield gave Butler playmaker Sophia Maccagnone a chance to play in teammate Elise Kotsakis who leveled the score by beating a diving Pettigrew with a low drive that tucked inside the left post.

SHU continued to struggle to find an offensive rhythm until an aggressive play from senior Amie Ruhe (Monrovia, Md.) led to the break the Pirates needed to move ahead for good.

Following a failed clearance attempt by the Bulldogs in the 81st minute, Ruhe stepped in and drove a ball towards net. Her effort ended up at the feet of Clarke in an on-side position and she slipped in behind the Butler defense and buried the eventual game-winning goal.

The strike was her second of the season and the ninth of her career as she matched a season-high with three points on the day. Ruhe picked up her first point of the year with an assist on the play; her seventh as a Pirate.

In four wins, Clarke is the fourth different Pirate to tally the game-winner.

Just over two minutes later, Ritter removed any doubt from the final result when she got on the end of a long ball into the box from sophomore D’Yonna Riley (Washingtonville, N.Y.) and beat the Bulldogs’ keeper Mackenzie Hopkins off the volley for her second goal of the game; denying butler its first-ever BIG EAST win.

Ritter now has six goals for the season, only one shy of her career high set in 2010. She has also added an assist, making her the Pirates’ leading scorer with 13 points through 11 matches.

Pettigrew finished with four saves and has only surrendered four goals during the team’s six-match unbeaten run at home; two of which came in a season-opening tie against Stony Brook.

The Pirates will pack up their gear and the six points they secured this weekend and head to Chicago for a date with DePaul on Thursday, October 3. Start-time is set for 4:00 p.m. on the east coast.