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Soccer Milestones Highlight Promising Year for SJU Athletics

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Over the course of his 22-year career in St. John’s athletics, women’s soccer coach Ian Stone has had many reasons to be proud. His teams have enjoyed 15 postseason tournament appearances, three NCAA Tournament berths—including this year’s selection, a 1994 BIG EAST championship title, and a 2002 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship title.

According to Coach Stone, however, the accomplishments he finds most satisfying might surprise some fans. “St. John’s women’s soccer team has enjoyed many individual and team successes on the playing field,” he noted, “but I am most proud of the work that our student-athletes are conducting off the field.”

This past year, the University awarded the team an Athletic Department Community Service Award and StormTracker Trophy, the latter being the result of a competition among all the University’s varsity programs based on academic excellence, leadership/personal development, community service, team development, career development, and supporting other athletes.

According to Coach Stone, the team’s focus on service reflects University values that have fostered his players’ personal growth—and his own. “After all these years,” he observed, “I consider myself fortunate to have encountered, and collaborated with, hundreds of fantastic human beings, both students and fellow employees, who have helped to shape my life positively.”

One of those players, Rachel Daly ’16CPS, has competed under Coach Stone’s direction for three years. The standout athlete—a three-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week and five-time Weekly Honor Roll selection this season—said she is proudest of being part of his 200th victory. “There’s no other coach I’d rather play for,” said Daly, who also recently broke St. John’s record for goals scored.

“Playing for St. John’s is about more than just winning games,” Daly observed. “There’s a special feeling every time I step out in my SJU jersey. It completes me.” She attributes that to the bond between her teammates and the University at large. “It’s the cohesiveness of not only our team, but our whole school. As student-athletes, we strive every day to be the best we can be, and we play for the name on our uniform.”

Chris Mullin participates in Dribble for the Cure.

That sense of commitment was also evident in the new head coach for men’s basketball, alumnus and former standout player Chris Mullin, who expressed confidence in this year’s team, comprising nine recruits, one walk-on, and a number of players from last season’s NCAA tournament squad.

Reflecting the Red Storm’s emphasis on service, both men’s and women’s basketball joined in September for Dribble for the Cure, raising over $100,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. This was the initiative’s fifth year at St. John’s, placing the Storm’s cumulative fundraising efforts at more than $255,000. Held on University Service Day, the event drew several hundred members of the campus community to Carnesecca Arena.

In October, St. John’s fans filled Carnesecca Arena to help men’s and women’s basketball in celebrating the start of the 2015–16 basketball season. The annual Red Storm Tip-Off featured introductions of players from both squads, the unveiling of the men’s 2015 NCAA Tournament banner, a men’s scrimmage, and a mixed-team, three-point shooting contest.

For Mullin, the events underscored the joy of returning to Red Storm athletics. “It’s a surreal experience, coming home,” said Mullin. “I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Gempesaw for providing me this tremendous opportunity to give back to the University where I spent some of the greatest years of my life.”