Saint Joseph's Pulls Away Late to Upset No. 12 Bryant

PHILADELPHIA Saint Joseph's knocked off #12 Bryant, 9-7, in Northeast Conference action to earn the program's first win over a nationally-ranked opponent in program history on Saturday afternoon at Sweeney Field. With the win, the Hawks improve to 8-3 overall and a perfect 4-0 in the NEC.

"I give all the credit to my players," said head coach Taylor Wray following the win. "They started the game great and they finished the game great. They got the job done. I don't know what to say. I'm speechless at this point. Bryant is a great team. To beat one of my mentors in coaching, Mike Pressler, a guy who, in a lot of ways, is responsible for me being in the position I'm in now, it's a really special day. They're a heck of a team. I'm just really proud of my guys."

Tied 6-6 entering the fourth period, freshman attackman Ray Vandegrift (Jenkintown, Pa./William Penn Charter) dished a pass to redshirt junior attackman Ryan McGee (White Plains, N.Y./White Plains), who fired his shot past Bryant goalkeeper Gunnar Waldt to put the Hawks back ahead, 7-6, just 1:17 into the final 15:00.

Bryant (9-3, 2-1 NEC) won the following face-off possession, and the Bulldogs' Collins Gantz fired off a rocket on goal, but Saint Joseph's freshman goalkeeper T.J. Jones (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) made the only save he would need to make in the fourth period to maintain the Hawks' lead.

"T.J. is a quality goalie," said Coach Wray of the rookie's performance on Saturday afternoon. "We got a group of quality goalies on our team. T.J. got the start today He's a big-game goalie. He's played in big games before. His team won the New Jersey state championship. He doesn't shutter in the moment there. He did a great job. He made a couple of big saves for us at the end and a big save man-down when we had a three-minute penalty. That's what you need from your guys. Players make plays and they did that today."

Following that save, SJU successfully cleared the ball down field and proceeded to fire off eight consecutive shots, with the eighth being the difference maker. After Vandegrift fired a shot wide, freshman attackman Michael Rastivo (South Setauket, N.Y./Choate Rosemary Hall) grabbed the ground ball and tallied his 13th goal of the season to extend SJU's lead, 8-6, with 7:32 remaining in regulation.

Neither team would add another goal over the course of the next six minutes until Bryant's Colin Dunster registered one for the Bulldogs with just 1:28 left to play.

Saint Joseph's freshman midfielder Danny Manning (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) would win the game's most crucial possession on the following play. After an SJU shot wide, Bryant called a timeout. Coming out of that timeout, freshman midfielder Anthony Joaquim (Guelph, Onatrio/The Hill Academy) took advantage of an empty Bryant net and put his shot in the back of it with just 48 seconds remaining in regulation to extend SJU's lead back to two goals, 9-7, with under one minute to play.

Bryant would win the following possession on a face-off violation on Saint Joseph's, but Dunster's final shot would sail high as the Hawks came away with the upset.

To start the game, the Hawks took off on a 4-0 run to begin the scoring. Senior midfielder Johnny Simanski (Reisterstown, Md./Loyola Blakefield) scored the game's first goal just 1:30 into the first 15:00. The senior finished the day with a goal and assist to lead the Crimson and Gray to victory.

"It feels amazing," said Simanski following SJU's win. "Coming from where we've come from, each year building up more and more, it's amazing. I can't describe it. I'm so happy for everybody. The guys and coaches, we've all worked so hard in the offseason and during the season. It's just great for all of the hard work to come to success."

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