Clarke's Strike Leads Pirates
Courtesy: Seton Hall Athletic Communications
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. - The Seton Hall women's soccer team won its second-consecutive match to start the 2012 campaign, downing the visiting Iona Gaels, 1-0, on Monday night.
The Pirates improved to 2-0 on the year behind a stout defense that has yet to concede a goal through two full matches. The Gaels dropped to 0-1-1 following the loss.
The Pirates dictated the first half of play, spending much of the first 45 minutes in the ascendency. Junior midfielder Ashley Clarke (Paramus, N.J.) played a central role in many of the early SHU chances as the Pirates looked threatening from the outset.
The first bona fide chance of the game came in the fifth minute when junior Brittney Albrecht (Mahwah, N.J.), who started her second-consecutive match, found a streaking Marie Klemme (Berlin, Germany) on the right.
Klemme sent a first-time ball into the box that Iona goalkeeper Trista Rivera scooped up just in front of a rushing Clarke. The two midfielders linked up again minutes later as Clarke found Klemme open in the box, but her volley sailed over the crossbar.
With just over 22 minutes gone, the Paramus native again injected herself into the action when she collected a pass from Amie Ruhe (Monrovia, Md.) and fired a shot on frame, forcing a quality save from Rivera. Despite the initial stop, the Iona keeper could not control the ball but Clarke's one-touch attempt on the rebound went wide of the near post.
The Pirates finally broke the scoreless deadlock when senior Cristina Barthel (Freehold, N.J.) sent a service into the box that skipped over Rivera who had come off her line in an attempt to punch it clear. The ball found a rushing Clarke in stride who slotted it home past a sliding attempt by Iona defender Sali Ayinde to clear it away from the vacant net, giving the Pirates a 1-0 advantage they would carry into halftime.
The goal was the first of the season for Clarke, her fifth as a Pirate. The assist opened Barthel's scoring account for 2012 and was the second helper of her collegiate career.
SHU continued to ask questions of the Iona defense as the Pirates maintained a dominant edge in possession. One of the best chances for an insurance goal came when forward Stephanie Soma (Franklin, Mass.) displayed great technical skill in turning at the edge of the penalty area, but the ensuing shot soared high.
Soma created another opportunity when she out-worked the Gaels' defense to win the ball in the left corner and sent a ball far post to Klemme, whose touch again floated just over the crossbar. The red-shirt senior wasn't done wreaking havoc as with just under five minutes to play, she produced a superb long range effort that forced Rivera to punch it over the bar.
Despite a plethora of chances to increase the lead, Clarke's tally stood as the difference as the Pirates held off a spirited Iona comeback attempt. The goal was the third game-winner of her career.
In perhaps the most telling stat of the night, the Pirates outshot the Gaels 21-4, firing eight shots on net. All of Iona's shot attempts came in the second half and none were on frame.
Despite the numbers, freshman goalkeeper Gina Maiorana (Street, Md.) impressed again in net, controlling her penalty area and cutting out several crossing attempts on her way to recording her second clean sheet in as many appearances.
With the win Seton Hall improved to 7-0-1 all-time against Iona.
The Pirates (2-0) return to action on Friday, Aug. 24, when they hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Bethlehem, Pa., for a matchup with Lehigh University. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.