In the MIAA A Conference, the three points you receive in the soccer standings for each victory are precious and tough to come by, especially when you realize that the conference holds down the top five positions in the VSN Boys Soccer Top 20.
Two of the squads, No. 3 Mount St. Joseph and No. 4 Loyola Blakefield battled on the turf in Irvington, Wednesday, in a tough season opener for both squads, and the host Gaels captured a very impressive 3-0 victory over the No. 4 Dons.
After sparring back-in-forth in the middle of the field for the first 15 minutes, the Gaels began to get the better of the build ups and were able to create scoring opportunities. The best came with 15:10 to play in the opening half and junior Jake Mazzei took full advantage for the Gaels.
Following a Loyola foul, the Gaels were awarded a free kick from 18 yards out, a Mazzei was the trigger man. With the swing of his right foot, Mazzei arched a bending shot over the Loyola wall which slipped inside the left post for the first goal of the game.
“When I got the free kick, I asked just let me get this one. When I hit it I knew it was in,” said Mazzei. “It was a great feeling.”
Nearly five minutes later, the Gaels scored on another set piece, as junior Brett St. Martin put his head on a throw-in from senior Kenny Crist, directing the ball into the net.
The 2-0 lead stood into the halftime break and the Gaels iced the victory with eight minutes left when Mazzei centered a pass for Jordan Ehart, who one-timed it into the goal for the Gaels’ final score.
“The late one in the second half, that put the game away, I looked up and the ball was getting good movement from Diego (Guerrero),” said Mazzei. “I saw him (Ehart) making the good run and I just played it in.
Mazzei added that the opening win was important to St. Joe’s season.
“We have a strong team and depth. We expect everyone to perform. Of course it is a really strong league and it was great to come out with three points.”
St. Joe coach Mike St. Martin echoed those sentiments.
“We’ve had a good preseason, but you never know. Preseason is preseason. It’s hard to find the same competition you play in the MIAA, but I was happy with the way we came out and the way we played today,” said St. Martin. “I think the backs did a great job of controlling that game and flying into spaces. At the end, Jordan, our outside back, got a goal, Nick (DeShong) did a great job in goal, communicating and playing through the backs. I was happy with the team effort all in all.”
With the first win under their belts, the Gaels will not play again until next Wednesday when they visit No. 5 McDonogh, the defending champions. Loyola will also remain idle until next Wednesday when the Dons host their home opener against No. 2 Archbishop Curley.
NO. 3 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 3, NO. 4 LOYOLA 0
LOY 0 0 — 0
MSJ 2 1 — 3
GOALS: MSJ-Mazzei, St. Martin, Ehart.
ASSISTS: MSJ-Crist, Mazzeri.
SAVES: LOY-Karpovitch 3, MSJ-DeShong 2.