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Published: September 22, 2011

NEW YORK – Freshman Derek Luke (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) scored his first-career goal off an assist from senior RJ Allen (Old Bridge, N.J./St. Joseph’s) in the  18th minute as the Monmouth University men’s soccer team shut out Columbia, 1-0, Thursday night at Columbia Soccer Stadium. With the win, the Hawks improve to 5-2-0, while the Lions fall to 3-4-1.

“This was a big win on the road against a good team,” said Monmouth Head Coach Robert McCourt. “We created some good chances and defended well when we needed to.”

Luke got the Hawks on the board 17:10 into the match. Allen sent a beautiful ball over the top of the Columbia defense, finding Luke at the far post. The freshman took one touch to beat Columbia goalkeeper Alexander Aurrichio.

Luke represents the eighth different Hawk to score Monmouth’s eight goals on the season. Allen has now figured in the scoring in all five of the Hawks’ wins this season, including four 1-0 results.

The tally was all the Hawks would need, as junior goalkeeper Alex Blackburn (Natick, Mass./Natick) and the Hawks’ defense compiled their fifth clean sheet in seven games. Blackburn tied his season-high with four saves, including two highlight-reel stops in the second half.

In the 52nd minute, Columbia’s David Najem connected on a shot off a Lions corner, but Blackburn was equal to the task. Later, in the 84th minute, Blackburn stoned Kofi Agyapong with a diving save of the Columbia forward’s free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. In total, Blackburn made four saves, all in the second half, to earn the victory.

The Hawks controlled play in the first half, outshooting the Lions, 5-1. But Columbia went on the offensive in the second half, rifling off nine shots to the Hawks’ two. For the game, the Hawks fended off eight Columbia corners, while taking one attempt of their own. Blackburn’s counterpart, Aurrichio, made three saves in defeat for the Lions.     

The Hawks return to action Sunday afternoon, when they play host to Princeton. Kickoff from The Great Lawn is scheduled for 1 p.m.    

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