Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, The University of Scranton men's soccer team put together one of its best performances of the season on Wednesday night, blanking visiting Drew, currently ranked ninth in the Mid-Atlantic Region, 3-0 in a Landmark Conference match played at Weiss Field.
Junior Jon Roberts (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Immaculata-Somerville) scored twice for the Royals (4-8-2, 2-3 Landmark) while freshman goalkeeper Jake Hodlofski (West Chester, Pa./Malvern Prep) made eight saves to earn his first collegiate victory with the clean sheet.
Junior Justin Hammert (Archbald, Pa./Scranton Prep) also scored for Scranton, which now has six points in the conference standings with two league games remaining. The Royals are tied with Goucher for fifth place in the Landmark Conference standings just three points shy of a playoff position as Drew and Moravian are tied for third with nine points apiece.
After absorbing some early pressure, Scranton opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a beautiful goal. Sophomore Aidan Thornell (Summit, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) played a long ball over the top of the Rangers' defense and Roberts streaked in from the left wing to head it past Drew's onrushing keeper for the game's first goal. Thornell's assist was his second helper of the season while sophomore Andrew Ferrier (Bayonne, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) also picked up an assist on the tally for the first point of his collegiate career.
Hammert doubled the Royals' advantage six and a half minutes later, knocking in a shot off a scramble in the visitor's penalty area for his fourth goal of the year as Scranton claimed a 2-0 lead with just under 16 minutes elapsed in the contest.
Drew (9-5, 3-2 Landmark) pressured the host's backline over the next 70 minutes and particularly in the second half when the Rangers attempted 11 of the 13 shots in the half, but Hodlofski and the Royals' defense would not break.
Roberts iced the game in the 84th minute on a counterattack. The junior collected a clearance from the defense on the left flank and went on a long run with the ball before firing a powerful shot that the Rangers' goalkeeper could not handle. The goal was the fourth of the season for Roberts, all of which have come in Scranton's last four games.
Drew doubled up the Royals in shots for the game, 16-8, but were unable to solve Hodlofski, who came up big in the second half with several outstanding stops.
The Rangers also held an 11-6 advantage in corner kicks on the evening.
Scranton will visit Susquehanna on Saturday afternoon for another critical Landmark Conference tilt starting at 1 p.m.