Women’s soccer defeats top 50 team
The Saint Joseph’s University women’s soccer team defeated Ohio State University by a score of 1-0 on Sept. 10. It was the first loss of the season for the Buckeyes, who were receiving votes in both collegiate polls and knocked off 20th ranked University of Notre Dame on Sept. 8.
Following last weekend’s overtime win against Towson University, Head Coach Jess Mannella mentioned the need to ratchet up the Hawks’ defense. She said that if St. Joe’s is able to score one goal, then that should be enough to win.
“That’s true though,” Mannella said. “It’s all we have to do, score one goal. We have a great goalkeeper and a great defensive team.”
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened against Ohio State.
The Hawks came out strong from the get-go, not allowing the Buckeyes to have many opportunities early on.
“They weren’t nervous coming out against Ohio State,” Mannella said. “That’s probably one of the things that I was most worried about, but they came out really confident and really strong. We dominated pretty much the whole first half. They came down our end a couple times, but we definitely came off strong from the start.”
Junior Paige Bergman scored the game’s lone goal on a corner kick in the 23rd minute. It was back-to-back games for Bergman in which she collected the game-winning goal on a corner kick.
“We score on corner kicks in general anyway, so they’re already dangerous. But now I think because of the pressure, it makes the goalkeeper nervous of both now,” Mannella said.
Bergman was named the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11. Additionally, junior Grace Bendon was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week. Bergman tallied nine saves against Ohio State on her way to her second shutout of the season.
“Grace [Bendon] came up really big with some of the saves she made,” Mannella said.
The Hawks scheduled this game with the intention of proving that they belong in the discussion of the best teams in the country. Last season, St. Joe’s missed a postseason opportunity largely because they lacked an impressive win against a top team.
“We put this RPI game on our schedule because we didn’t get an at-large bid because we didn’t beat a top 50 team,” Mannella said. “Here, we just beat a top 50 team.”
At least in the mind of the Hawks, this win proves that they can hang with the best.
“I think one thing, and I know it was something that we wanted to prove last year, is that we deserved that at-large bid last year,” Mannella said. “Dayton [University] won our conference and played Ohio State last year [and lost]. I just think it shows we have the ability to be a top-50 team and be an NCAA tournament team, which is our goal.”
However, the team is willing to acknowledge the win alone is not enough.
“We have to do our work the rest of the season now,” Mannella said.
St. Joe’s will return to action against Providence College on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.