JERSEY CITY—Sophomore forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union) scored twice and freshman forward ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison) contributed a game-tying goal and an assist as New Jersey City University notched three unanswered goals and defeated William Paterson University for the first time, defeating the Pioneers, 3-1, in a New Jersey Athletic Conference match at the Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field on Wednesday afternoon.
With the win, NJCU establishes a new single-season record for victories with 10, improving to 10-6 overall and 2-4 in the conference. NJCU had won nine games in 1994 and 2008 and guarantees its first non-losing season since going 9-7 in 1994. Prior to this year, NJCU had just two wins in league play in the 16-year history of the program, as the Gothic Knights continue to enjoy their best season ever. With the loss, WPU drops to 4-6-3 overall and 2-2-2 in the league. WPU leads the all-time series, 13-1.
NJCU, which improves to 6-1 at home this year, breaking the school record for home victories (5-5, 2008), outshot the Pioneers (1-4-3 away from Wayne, NJ) by a 22-12 margin, including 13-5 in the second half.
NJCU continues to lead Division III in total goals scored with 62—three shy of the school record of 65 set last year.
Caseres, a three-time NJAC Offensive Player of the Week selection in six weeks this year, scored the second and third goals of the game, increasing her NCAA Division III national lead in goals and points to 23 and 57, respectively, while burying her fifth game-winner of the year. She has scored 45 goals in 36 collegiate games. It was her eighth multiple-goal game this year.
Cunha upped her season goals count to 15, while notching her eighth assist, and has registered at least two points in a game in 12 of her first 16 career games. Senior defender JESSICA IRIZARRY (Perth Amboy, NJ/Perth Amboy) collected her second assist of the year and fifth of her career.
WPU’s goal was scored by junior defender Ali Ruddy (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley)—her third of the season.
Pioneer senior keeper Meaghan Baker (Rockaway, NJ/Morris Knolls) made five saves to keep the visitors in the game. After stopping a solid chance by Cunha at 9:52 of the first half, she made a remarkable save at 17:57, thwarting Cunha again on a breakaway in the box.
WPU would score first at 22:51 of the first half. Ruddy took a free kick from a stride inside the far sideline from 20 yards out, which sailed into the top right corner of the goal.
NJCU had nine first half shots, most of which were solid scoring opportunities. After sophomore midfielder KATLIN VARGO (Edison, NJ/Union Catholic) narrowly missed in the 31st minute, the Knights would even it at 39:51. Irizarry sent a short chip over the defense into the box where Cunha received it, dribbled to the right side, before striking a one-timer from five yards out into the left of the net. The game was knotted at 1-1 at the break.
While the first half was evenly played, NJCU dominated possession in the second half. Freshman defender AMANDA SPETHMANN (Wood-Ridge, NJ/Wood-Ridge—Hasbrouck Heights) had a outstanding scoring chance in the 50th minute before Baker made another nice save, and Cunha just missed high on an attempt in the 53rd minute.
Finally, as NJCU uncorked three consecutive shots in a matter of seconds, Caseres and Cunha teamed up on a goal for the 10th time this year. At 59:10 Cunha tracked down the rebound of a blocked Caseres chance, and put a shot on net from just to the left of the goal. While the ball may have gone in without any help, Caseres ensured it would mesh with nylon, knocking the ball out of the air and into the right side of the target for a 2-1 lead at 59:11.
Caseres had a pair of attempts in the 70th and 72nd minute that were close, before finally adding a crucial insurance goal in the 84th minute. Cunha slipped a thru ball onto the right wing at 83:56. Caseres fooled a defender and drew Baker towards her, before ripping a shot into the right side for a 3-1 margin and the win.
NJCU junior keeper KELLY REILLY (Pennsville, NJ/Pennsville Memorial), who evened her career record at 26-26-0, stopped three shots in the victory.
NJCU is back in action on Saturday, October 17 at 2 p.m. when it plays its fourth of five consecutive home games. The Knights will host NJAC leader Rowan University, ranked #10 nationally by D3Soccer.com and 12th by the NSCAA. The Pioneers host The College of New Jersey, ranked 13th and 18th respectively, that day at 12 p.m.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!