Yannick Franz Fernando Casero

Yannick Franz looks on as Fernando Casero launches a free kick vs. Radford.

In JMU’s second CAA game of the season, the Dukes (4-2-1, 2-0-0 CAA) had to fight off a physical Northeastern Huskies (2-5-0, 0-1-0 CAA) squad. Despite the Huskies’ stout defense, JMU squeaked by 1-0 and remained unbeaten in conference play.

After 71 minutes and 17 corners, junior defender Brandon Clegg got on the end of graduate student midfielder Yannick Franz’s corner and snuck it into the back of the net. JMU outshot Northeastern 12 to two over the course of the match.

“It’s a great feeling, but the bigger one is that we got the win in a conference game at home,” Clegg said. “To start 2-0 in the conference is big because a lot of teams tonight that played are going to lose points, so we’re ahead of them now.”

JMU controlled the match for the first 15 minutes. In the 14th, redshirt sophomore defender Shaun McKenna played a cross that deflected off a Huskies defender and nearly snuck it in, but sophomore goalkeeper Noah Abrams parried it away and kept the score at zero.

Northeastern nearly took the lead in the 23rd minute as sophomore forward/midfielder Dan Munch got the ball in the center of the box and fired a shot that slammed into the crossbar. The Dukes cleared it away and avoided any more danger, keeping the match scoreless.

The Dukes appeared to take the lead after a scramble in the box led to the ball going past Abrams, but it was called back because of a foul. JMU had another scoring opportunity go agonizingly wide a few minutes later, but neither team could get a breakthrough. At the half, JMU and Northeastern were tied 0-0.

“You always have to keep driving,” Franz said. “That’s why in preseason we work hard … You have to be able to play your best for 90 minutes, and in the end, it was important that we could do that because one corner decided the game.”

Less than a minute into the second half, junior forward Max Poelker got a good chance to score, but was flagged for offside. Five minutes later, junior defender/midfielder Niclas Mohr had a shot cleared off the line. JMU kept the pressure up as Franz fired a shot headed for the bottom corner, but Abrams did well to get down and save it.

In the ensuing counterattack, Northeastern’s Munch had a one-on-one chance that went just wide of the post. Both teams were close to scoring, but neither could put themselves in the lead.

From the start of the second half, JMU played more aggressively and did well to control the match. For a team searching for another CAA title, every minute is important to get a step ahead.

“[I told them] just to play our style,” head coach Paul Zazenski said. “We put together a good scout and felt good about how to break down this group. In the first half, we didn’t stick to it, but in the second half [the players] really had a focus in what they wanted to do.”

The 71st minute saw JMU take the lead. Franz took the Dukes’ corner of the match and found Clegg, whose effort snuck into the goal and put the home team up 1-0.

In the dying moments of the match, Northeastern ramped up the pressure to try and grab an equalizer. A one-on-one opportunity went wide of the left post, but the goal wouldn’t have counted, as the linesman called offside.

“Continuing to get results is how you stay on top of the conference,” Zazenski said. “If you drop a game tonight or tie, it’s tough in the CAA to build back to the top.”

The Huskies weren’t able to find an equalizer and JMU earned a 1-0 win. The Dukes, who have extended their win streak to three matches, have their next contest Wednesday at Sentara Park, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

Contact Noah Ziegler at zieglenh@dukes.jmu.edu. For more soccer coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

There comes a time where an athlete realizes their true potential. When I realized that I was never going to make a living on the court, I figured I’d make it on the sidelines. I hope to be able to attend and cover the World Cup and NCAA tournament.