Amanda Boyer/Photography Editor
It’s been a familiar script for the Seton Hall women’s soccer team. Goals have been hard to come by to say the least. The Pirate’s 0-0 draw at Villanova on Sunday was yet another example of the blue and white unable to find the back of the net this season.
The tie marks the eleventh time the team has been shut out this season. The Hall has collectively scored a conference-worst 8 goals this season and is winless in conference play (0-4-3). But the Pirates may have some extra motivation ahead of their next match, a meeting at home against rival-St. John’s. The Johnnies are 5-1-1 in conference play and scored 19 goals this season. Junior Amanda Gulli though spoke adamantly about the team’s hunger to the ‘W’ on Saturday.
“We want to beat St. John’s,” Gulli said. “We want to beat the people that are close to us because we want to be the best in our region.”
The Red Storm enters Saturday’s meeting at Owen T. Carroll field coming off a 1-0 loss to Providence, their first loss in Big East play. They were held scoreless on Sunday, despite firing 14 shots, six on goal, only the third time all year they have been shut out this season. Providence goalkeeper Kristyn She had an answer for all six shots that were fired her way, while junior Catherine Zimmerman scored her tenth goal of the season, tying her for the conference leader in goals scored.
Gulli has helped charge the little offense the Pirates have had this year, scoring a goal and adding three assists. She admits that she has put some pressure on herself to score and create for the goal-starved Pirates.
“I feel pressure all the time,” Gulli said. “I look to myself to be the one that scores.”
While the goals have been scarce, the Pirates’ defense and goaltending have been the team’s bread and butter, keeping them around in conference meetings this season, a fact not lost on Gulli, who praised her team’s effort in those two areas.
“Illissa has done a great job being a goal-stopper,” Gulli said of her goalkeeper. “We have one of the best defenses in the conference.”
St. John’s will be looking beyond Saturday’s loss and have plenty of offensive threats to help them do that. Junior Rachel Daly leads the team in goals with seven and the conference in shots with 70. The Pirates defense will need to take notice, as will sophomore Illissa Blackshear, who is likely to make her 14th start of the season.
Head coach Rick Stainton said he’s always confident in his team’s ability to win, praising his team’s defensive system, but admitting that goal-scoring hasn’t come the way the team would like. Still, he’s been pleased with the team’s progress.
“Each week we are getting better and better,” he said. “We’re competitive in every game we play, we’ve just lacked that final execution.”
Gulli too knows the team can compete and be a competitive bunch so long as they play a complete game.
“We know that we can compete and that’s what we have to do,” she said. “Not just play the first start of the game.”
In discussing what the team can do to beat a tough St. John’s team, Gulli put it simply.
“Possess and capitalize,” she said. “Possess the ball and work the ball around them and keep the ball around them and capitalize on every opportunity we have.”
The Hall will look to do just that as they welcome the tied-for-second St. John’s on Saturday. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m.
Neal McHale can be reached at email@example.com. or on twitter @nealmchale.