Wildcats Cruise to Pair of Victories in Kentucky to Open Season

Wildcats Cruise to Pair of Victories in Kentucky to Open Season

Charlotte, NC - The Johnson & Wales University men's soccer team put in a pair of dominant performances to open the season this weekend in Kentucky, claiming a 4-0 victory at the University of Pikeville on Friday and a 6-0 win at Berea College on Saturday.

Six different players found the back of the net for the Wildcats (2-0), who have not dropped a season opener since the program was established in 2015.

On Friday, it took just over 10 minutes for Johnson & Wales to take the lead over NAIA affiliate Pikeville.  Midfielder Sam Fanning was able to spring Gunner Tootle on the right flank with a pinpoint pass, allowing the sophomore to beat Pikeville goalkeeper Anibal Navarro for a 1-0 lead.

Jalen Jackson added insurance in the second half, striking for a pair of goals less than 50 seconds apart to put the Wildcats up 3-0.  He used his pace to finish off a chip from Mo Baskaron in the 60th minute, and would redirect a header from Weeb Isaac in the 61st minute.

Freshman Seth Furman marked his debut with a goal in the 82nd minute, finishing off a loose ball in the box to cap the scoring at 4-0.  

Goalkeeper John Lowes earned the clean sheet, making three saves on the day.

"I'm proud of the guys for taking care of business on the first day," said Wildcats head coach James Drzewiecki.  "Getting used to the pitch was a bit of a challenge, but they did well to adjust and grab our first win against an NAIA opponent.  There were times it was a disjointed performance, but in the end you can't really complain about a 4-0 win."

Any questions of sharpness were quickly fogotten on Saturday as the Wildcats raced out to a 3-0 lead in just over 20 minutes en route to the six-goal victory over NCAA Division 3 opponent Berea College.

Midfielder Jason Rosales helped spark Johnson & Wales to a 2-0 lead with a pair of free kicks in the 13th and 14th minutes.  His first effort found center back JT Fucci, who lashed a volley through a crowd for the 1-0 advantage.  Less than two minutes later, another effort from 30 yards went untouched by a swarm of players and curled inside of the back post to make it 2-0.

In the 21st minute, Jackson found his third goal of the young season, taking a pass from Isaac and turning his defender before making it 3-0.

Isaac would score his first two goals of his career early in the second half to make it 5-0.  The first came in the 50th minute, as Tito Villanueva's throw-in put Isaac in alone with the keeper on a breakaway.  Not even two minutes later, Villanueva would again put Isaac in behind, this time on a through ball, for the freshman's second goal.

Jackson would complete his brace in the 61st minute, finishing near post from an Ariel Morales assist.

The Wildcats outshot Berea 21-4 on the match, putting 17 shots on frame.  Goalkeepers John Lowes and Andrew Sanchez combined to make just one save on the day.

"Our energy was phenomenal on Saturday," said Drzewiecki.  "That may have been our most complete performance to date since we started this program.  We challenged the guys at halftime to not be content with merely having the lead, but to show they have what it takes to put matches out of reach, and they responded very well.  If we keep that attitude and focus, we can be a very dangerous team."

Johnson & Wales will resume play on Thursday when they travel to Lancaster, SC, to play USC-Lancaster.  Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.