Slippery Rock University senior forward Stephen Donnelly was able to break free and score the game winning goal with 11 minutes remaining against Salem International (5-2) Tuesday, sealing SRU’s (5-3) 2-1 victory.
“It was good to be able to get away with the win,” Rock head coach Andy Hoggarth said. “I think that the game should have been put away in the first half, where we should have had a four or five goal lead. We just allowed them to stay in the game, and we just have got to do a better job at closing games out.”
The Green and White were able to get on the board in the 16th minute when Donnelly was able to control a corner kick and pass the ball off to junior forward Peter Boylan, who was able to beat Salem’s goalie and give the Rock an early 1-0 lead.
“After the first corner kick, I knew that the ball was going to be placed near the front post,” Boylan said. “I knew that the keeper was looking to make the save there the second time, the ball came to me and I was just able to flick it into the back of the net.”
Neither team was able to score in the remainder of the half, and SRU entered halftime with a 1-0 advantage.
The Rock was able to control the pace of the game early in the second half, but were unable to find the back of the net, despite holding a 12-6 advantage in total shots and a 6-1 advantage in shots on goal.
In the 62nd minute, SIUMS freshman Alexandre Costet scored against Rock junior goalkeeper Kyle Hoffer to tie the game at 1-1. The Rock would eventually take the 2-1 lead, and hold off the Salem attack to secure the win. Hoffer, who made his first career start for the Green and White, saved one shot and allowed one goal.
Donnelly, Boylan, and senior midfielder Anthony Jack led SRU with three shots each. Junior forward Mike Ilodigwe, sophomore Matt Sangermano, and senior Dom Francis also added one shot each for the Rock offense. Sangermano also had an assist, setting up Donnelly with a lob pass over the Tiger defenders, causing Donnelly to have a clear path to the Salem goal for the game winner.
Salem International was whistled for 17 fouls, while the Rock was whistled for 12. Multiple Salem International players were shown yellow cards, including one player who was given a red card with nine minutes remaining in the game. SRU also held the statistical advantage in corner kicks, 7-2.
“The biggest thing that I am happy with is that we didn’t respond when the other team got a little chippy,” Hoggarth said. “We responded well and were disciplined in a game where the other team was given plenty of yellow cards, and that’s what we like to see.”
The Rock’s next game will be on Saturday at home, when they will take on the University of Pitt-Johnstown (1-7) at James Egli Field at 3:30 p.m.