The Slippery Rock men’s soccer team broke into the nation’s top-10 on Tuesday when they moved from No. 15 to No. 8.
The No. 8 ranking is the highest in the program’s history and marks their third consecutive week being nationally ranked. In 2010, SRU was ranked No. 9 early in the season.
“I think it’s great for the players and the program to be nationally ranked,” head coach Michael Bonelli said. “It shows that hard work pays off.”
Bonelli said that while the team is honored by their current placement, they are focused on improving throughout the season and their final rank.
After moving up seven places, the Rock shut out Gannon University 3-0 Wednesday night for their seventh-straight win.
Senior midfielder Zach Hall got SRU off to a 1-0 lead in the third minute of the game off of an assist from senior defender Joshua Gray. The goal was Hall’s fourth of the season.
Hall said that the team’s national recognition is pushing them to work harder and set higher goals for themselves.
“We’ve reached a ranking that no previous team has before,” Hall said. “There’s a target on our backs now and every team we play is going to be a challenge.”
Senior forward Michael Ramirez scored the second goal of the game for SRU in the 29th minute. Gray was credited with the assist. Ramirez now leads the Green and White with six goals.
Ten different players have scored goals for Slippery Rock this season.
“We have a lot of attacking threats this year and have capitalized in many goal-scoring situations,” Ramirez said. “That puts a lot of pressure on the opposing defense. There’s not just one goal scorer to shut down.”
Junior defender Declan Brennan pushed the lead to 3-0 with a goal in the 71st minute of the game off of an assist from Gray. Gray now has a team-high nine assists on the season.
SRU goalkeeper Chris Zier recorded his fourth shutout of the season with six saves in the game. He has the region-best goals against average with 0.54 and also has the region-best save percentage of .902.
Gannon had a higher total shots number with 10, while SRU had nine. Both teams had six shots on goal.
The Rock faced Lock Haven University Saturday and won 3-1. SRU junior forward Stephen Donnelly scored the first goal of the game in the 10th minute off of a free kick; his fifth goal of the season. Brennan scored the second goal of the game in the 71st minute off of a 50-year free kick from sophomore defender Ryan Boylan. Ramirez scored in the 79th minute off of a throw-in from Gray to put SRU up 3-0. Lock Haven’s only goal came from freshman forward Troy Amspacher off of a penalty kick in the 85th minute.
Slippery Rock will face Mercyhurst University tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Mercyhurst (10-3) is undefeated on the road and on a four-game winning streak.
Despite losing the PSAC title game to the Lakers last season, Bonelli said the game isn’t meant to be a revenge game.
“It’s an important game and we’re going to give it our best shot,” Bonelli said. “It’s a different season, a different year.”