Russo snags 300th win in home opener victory

While leading the women’s soccer team to a 1-0-1 record this week, head coach Joe Russo notched his 300th career win. The team’s game on Saturday against Montclair State University was a victorious one with a 5-0 score, while Wednesday’s game against Richard Stockton College of New Jersey ended in a 0-0 tie.

With the win over Montclair, Russo became only the fourth NCAA Division III women’s soccer coach to achieve the 300-win milestone. His overall record now stands at 300-29-21 as he continues coaching in his 17th season with the Lions.

“He seemed pretty happy,” sophomore defender Laura Delaney said. “Not because of the 300 wins, but due to the fact that the team came together and played well.”

Russo mirrored these sentiments by saying that the milestone “is a testament to the team, the program and all the talented girls that have been on the team in the past.”

The Lions’ offense erupted during Saturday’s 5-0 win against Montclair. In the first game on their new field, the Lions got things started in the second half when sophomore defender Jillian Casey finished a cross from sophomore forward Jamie Kunkel during the 55th minute to secure the lead.

Freshman midfielder Kristina Shemming followed up with two goals of her own, converting another cross from Kunkel and a pass from sophomore forward Allie Schilling.

The onslaught was continued by junior forward Dana DiBruno when she broke loose in the 72nd minute for an unassisted goal. Junior forward Beth Pagano tallied the fifth goal of the night for the Lions.

Freshman goalkeeper Jessica Clarke made one save on the night and extended her shutout streak to four games. It has been 452 minutes since the Lions have allowed a goal with Clarke in net. After battling the Ospreys for 110 minutes last Wednesday night, the Lions came away with a 0-0 decision.

Despite 14 shots, including 10 on goal, the Ospreys’ defense held the Lions scoreless.

For a team trying to win a national championship, “a tie is like a loss,” sophomore Coleen Weber said.

“We could have played worse and got the same result,” Russo said. “You just get those games where the shots do not go in.”

Clarke needed only one save for the shutout.

“It has been tough on the girls to get some kind of rhythm going,” Russo said. “We have postponed a few games due to rain and we had a 10-day gap in which we did not play a game … but the girls have responded well. They just need more games to get that rhythm going.”

The Lions also played Gwynedd-Mercy College last Monday and trounced the Griffins 5-0 for its fifth straight shutout.

At 4-0-2 overall, and 1-0-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), the Lions are now ranked second in the NJAC. Their next game is at home tonight against Rutgers University-Camden at 7:30 p.m.