“Strike Force” Lifts NJCU Women To First-Ever Win Over St. Joseph’s

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CORAM, N.Y. — Junior forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union) gave New Jersey City University a lead with her 14th goal of the young season early in the second half and her ‘Strike Force’ partner, junior forward JENNIFER ALBUJA (Union City, NJ/Hoboken) netted the eventual game-winner just over five minutes later as the New Jersey City University women’s soccer team won its fourth consecutive game and defeated St. Joseph’s College (LI) for the first time in program history, with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.

NJCU (5-1), off to its best start since opening the 2008 season 6-0, outshot the Golden Eagles 17-8, including 11-2 in the scoreless first half. The Gothic Knights could have had a large margin of victory, but hit the crossbar three times.

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St. Joseph’s drops to 2-4-1 on the season with all four defeats coming against New Jersey Athletic Conference members. The Eagles had a 6-2 edge in corner kicks.

It was the first meeting between the schools since September 7, 2005 and NJCU’s first-ever victory over the Eagles in eight meetings. SJC had outscored the Knights 23-1, in the first seven contests prior to resurgence of the NJCU program in the last three seasons.

NJCU’s starting defense and midfield continued to control the tempo of a game, as the Eagles were limited to three shots on goal. Rookie keeper NICOLE HERNANDEZ (Belleville, NJ/Belleville) made her first collegiate start and stopped two shots.

“Our passing is getting a lot better and we’re still changing things up because we have two starters who have been out all season [Nicole Sarica, Amanda Spethmann],” said fifth-year head coach ROBERT BIELAN. “It was good to see the freshmen stepping up and playing a crucial role, filling the void for this team. We played hard for 90 minutes tonight.”

Albuja had six shots in the game, and twice had a chance to put NJCU ahead in the first half. She ripped two shots off the crossbar at 20:54 and 22:02. Sophomore midfielder ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison) had five shots, with two on net.

Caseres finally got the Knights on the board in the 52nd minute. After she was dragged down in the box, Caseres was awarded a penalty kick and buried her 14th goal of the season at 51:10, keeping alive her streak of scoring in every game this season. The goal was the 66th of her career, tying her for second place in NJAC history. It was her 156th career point.

Junior defender MARGIE ALFANO (Randolph, NJ/West Orange) nearly made it 2-0 at 55:22, ringing another shot off the crossbar. Moments later, the Knights did move in front by two goals. Sophomore midfielder CHELSEA SPETHMANN (Wood-Ridge, NJ/Hasbrouck Heights-Wood Ridge) fired a throw-in from the left sideline to Albuja, who settled the ball on the left side of the box, split two defenders, and unleashed a shot into the left of the net from 10 yards out for her sixth goal of the season.

The goal at 56:33 was the 62nd of her career and 133rd career point, as Albuja moved into a tie for seventh place in NJAC history in career points.

Junior keeper Michelle Gilino (East Setauket, NY/West Melville) kept the Eagles alive with a solid night in net, stopping six shots. St. Joseph’s cut the Gothic Knight lead to 2-1 at 75:13 when junior midfielder Kaitlin Arthurs (West Babylon, NY/West Babylon) scored her second goal of the season off an assist from freshman midfielder Samantha Garcia (Central Islip, NY/St. John the Baptist). However, the Eagles were limited to two shots in the final 15 minutes, and neither was on target.
NJCU will open play in the NJAC on Saturday, September 18 when it visits William Paterson University at 6 p.m. in Wayne, NJ.


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