Cunha’s Third Career Hat Trick Propels NJCU Women’s Soccer Past Staten Island, 6-1

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Sophomore forward ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison) generated her third career hat trick and junior forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union) had a goal and two assists as New Jersey City University won its 12th game of the season, outshooting the College of Staten Island, 34-3, en route to an easy 6-1 non-conference road victory on Wednesday afternoon.

NJCU wins its third straight game and continues its best-ever season by improving to 12-5 after 17 games. Staten Island had its three game-winning streak snapped and falls to 9-4. NJCU leads the ‘Bayonne Bridge Series’, 5-1.

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NJCU led 2-0 at halftime, outshooting the Dolphins, 11-1. The Knights added four second half goals courtesy of a 23-2 shots barrage.

Junior sweeper/forward JENNIFER ALBUJA (Union City, NJ/Hoboken) bagged the 66th goal of her career to move into a tie for third place in total goals in New Jersey Athletic Conference history. Sophomore midfielder KELSEY PLASKON (Clifton, NJ/Queen of Peace) added her third goal of the season.

Cunha’s three goals brings her season total to 11—including her third game-winner—while Albuja chalked up her 10th of the season.

Meanwhile, Caseres extended her all-time NJAC scoring record to 177 career points, tallying her ninth and 10th assist of the season and 21st goal of the season, increasing her remarkable three-year total to 73 markers. The 73rd career goal moved her into second place in the history of the NJAC among all genders. The College of New Jersey’s Wayne Huston scored 72 goals from 1962-65.

Sophomore forward GABRIELLE CLARKE (Edison, NJ/J.P. Stevens) and reigning NJAC Rookie of the Week, freshman midfielder ALEXIS FREES (Linden, NJ/Linden), each contributed one assist.

Junior goalkeeper LAURA ROBINSON (Edison, NJ/Edison) earned her 11th win of the season without needing to make a save. CSI tallied eight saves. Freshman Victoria Donegan (Staten Island, NY/St. Joseph by the Sea) had two first half saves before senior Danielle McLaughlin (Staten Island, NY/Moore Catholic) stopped five second-half shots. CSI had one team save.

NJCU gained a 1-0 lead at 19:58 of the first half as Caseres scored unassisted. Early in the 32nd minute, Caseres lofted a cross to Cunha who buried a one-timer at 31:13.

At 53:15 of the second half, Cunha added her second goal of the game for a 3-0 lead, knocking a cross by Clarke into the left of the goal; the assist was Clarke’s fifth of the year. Albuja made it 4-0 at 60:39 when she picked off possession of the ball and buried the steal. At 76:19, Frees earned her second assist of the season as she banged a shot off the post and Cunha put home the rebound for a 5-0 lead.

CSI’s only goal came from sophomore defender Natalie Tombasco (Staten Island, NY/Susan Wagner) who swiped a ball before converting her seventh score of the season at 78:12. Plaskon capped the scoring at 85:47 when she netted a corner kick off the foot of Caseres.

With two games remaining in the conference schedule and three in the regular season, NJCU seeks to clinch its first-ever NJAC Tournament berth on Saturday, October 23 at 1 p.m. when it hosts #8/18 ranked TCNJ. The Knights are 7-0 at home this season and have won 10 consecutive home contests and 17 of its last 19.


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