The Seton Hall men’s soccer team picked up back-to-back regular season victories for the first time since 2013 after defeating Sacred Heart on Sept. 4 and coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Princeton in double overtime on Sept. 7.
On Sept. 10, the Pirates defeated Penn 2-1 for their third straight victory, a streak not achieved since 2011.
After winning only four games last season and none in 2015, the Pirates have looked promising, especially in the past few contests. The offense has been a prime reason for Seton Hall’s recent success, as the barrage of goals has been crucial to the past two victories.
Offense has not been Seton Hall’s strength in recent years. In their winless 2015 campaign, the Pirates averaged less than a goal per contest, scoring 15 goals in 17 games. Seton Hall improved with 19 goals in 2016, and are already at 11 in the 2017 season, currently at a mark of 1.83 goals per game.
The goals have been coming from an increase in chances created, and the shooting has also improved, especially in shots on goal. So far this season, the Pirates have taken over 14 shots per game, with 84 total. Out of those 84 shots, 36 have been on goal, which is a 43 percent mark.
While that percentage is lower than its combined opponents, Seton Hall has outscored opponents 11-8 and also has an advantage in shots per game.
The three victories for the Pirates are a testament to their increase in scoring opportunities this season. In the Labor Day 3-0 victory over Sacred Heart, the Pirates were actually outshot and put fewer shots on goal. However, the shooting statistics for the players that put the ball in the back of the net have been huge factors.
Gabriel Viola’s goal in the 39th minute put the Pirates ahead 2-0 right before halftime. Entering Wednesday, he has taken 10 shots this season, which is the third highest shot total on the team. He has only two shots on goal, but has four points which is tied for the second most on the team. Jonathan Jimenez also has four points for the Pirates, and scored the decisive goal in the second half of that same game.
The victory over Princeton was thanks to the offense, which worked hard after falling behind 3-0 with 40 minutes remaining, and the offense came in clutch in order to send the match to overtime with just two seconds remaining in regulation. The Pirates had 13 of their 19 shots in the second half alone, and it was vital in order to claw their way back into the match.
The Pirates were outshot 21-19 but had nine shots on goal compared to Princeton’s seven, the Pirates held a better shot on goal percentage as well.
The Pirates got their offense from some of their most reliable players throughout this season.
Marco Neves netted the first goal for Seton Hall against Princeton. Entering Wednesday, he leads the team in shots taken with 23 and has eight on goal.
Andres Arcila shined once again for the Pirates, as he has had a stellar campaign so far. He had two goals against the Tigers, including the game-winner in the 103rd minute, giving him a team-best three for the year. He has taken 14 shots entering Wednesday and has put seven on goal, and Arcila also leads the Pirates with 11 points, coming from four goals and three assists.
Both Neves and Arcila came up big again against Penn, netting a goal apiece en route to the victory and Spencer Burkhardt tallied an assist.
The Pirates outshot Penn 10-5, and put five shots on goal compared to Penn’s three. Their play has been vital to the Seton Hall’s recent success on the pitch, success that hasn’t been seen in six years, but deserved given their sharp play.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.