When and Where: October 19, 2016 – Manchester, N.H. (Larkin Field)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 4, Saint Michael's College 2
Records: SNHU 9-3-1 (6-3-1 NE-10), Saint Michael's 4-9-0 (2-8-0 NE-10)
Graduate student Rayane Boukemia (Strasbourg, France) erupted for a career-high four goals to power the Southern New Hampshire University men's soccer team to a 4-2 triumph over Saint Michael's College on Wednesday evening at Larkin Field in a match that aired live on NESNplus.
Boukemia's four goals were the most in a single match for a Penmen since Mounir Tajiou put away four in a 6-1 home win against Assumption College on Sept. 7, 2002.
Saint Michael's notched the game's first goal just 5:26 in as Andres Rivas slipped a long through-ball up the field for Aaron DeCosta, who beat the Southern New Hampshire defense and ripped a shot that was deflected by grad goalkeeper Nick Zucco (Ludlow, Mass.), but was still able to roll into the goal.
SNHU tied it just 2:01 later when Boukemia collected a pass into traffic from senior Gilbert Manier (Kigali, Rwanda) and split a trio of Saint Michael's defenders before sending a shot into the top-right corner of the net to even the match at 1-all.
The Purple Knights grabbed a 2-1 lead at exactly 31:00 when Rivas settled a pass from Chris Mullin, turned and drilled a shot from 30 yards out that sailed over a leaping Zucco and into the top-left corner of the net.
Boukemia again wasted little time pulling the Penmen even as just 59 seconds later he tracked down a through-ball from grad student Yannis Becker (Sittensen, Germany) on the left side of the box and struck a shot into the bottom-right corner of the net to make it 2-2.
Boukemia nearly netted the hat trick and put the Penmen in front with just 1:45 remaining in the opening half when he ran onto a loose ball near the left side of the 6-yard box and blasted a shot that was deflected off the crossbar by Saint Michael's goalkeeper Daniel du Feu.
The Purple Knights put the pressure on Southern New Hampshire early in the second half as a pair of DaCosta shots late in the 48th minute forced a great diving save from Zucco at the right post and a huge defensive save from freshman Louka Masset (Paris, France).
Boukemia again made a bid for the hat trick and the go-ahead goal midway through the 51st minute as his rip off a free kick from just outside the box was tipped off the crossbar by du Feu.
Boukemia did finally hand SNHU a 3-2 lead and collect the hat trick in the 55th minute as Becker served a long cross from the left sideline that Boukemia finished with a header at the right post.
Boukemia clanged the left post in the 73rd minute before freshman Romain Daniellou (Brieuc, France) forced du Feu to make a diving stop to his left with a drive from the middle of the box just 45 seconds later.
Boukemia made it 4-2 with his fourth of the game – and the prettiest one of the night – late in the 79th minute. Manier hit a cross from the left flank into the right side of the box, where Boukemia volleyed it into the top-left corner.
-Southern New Hampshire is now unbeaten in four of its last five.
-The hat trick was the second of his career for Boukemia, who could have had seven goals if not for a trio of posts in his way. Boukemia scored three goals earlier this season in a 4-0 win against Post University on Sept. 7.
-While Boukemia's four goals were the most in a match in more than 14 years, he still fell two shy of Fran Croteau's program record of six against Saint Francis on Sept. 20, 1975.
-SNHU is now 67-6-5 (.891) over its last 78 matches dating back to the beginning of the 2013 National Championship season, while it is unbeaten in 59 of its last 64 (57-5-2; .907) at home.
-Zucco made three saves for the Penmen, while du Feu stopped five shots over the first 87:14. Taylor Wallace did not see an attempt from SNHU over the final 2:46.
-Southern New Hampshire outshot Saint Michael's, 19-7, including 13-5 in the second stanza, while corner kicks were even at one apiece.
The Penmen return to action Saturday, Oct. 22 (6 p.m.) in a big conference showdown with Merrimack College. The next and final regular-season home match for SNHU is Tuesday, Oct. 25 (7 p.m.) when it plays host to Assumption College on Senior Night under the lights at Larkin.
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