Red Storm advances to third round for first time since 2008
Photo By: redstormsports.com
The No. 16 St. John's men's soccer team used a pair of first half goals to down Syracuse, 2-1, and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night at Belson Stadium.
One of just 16 teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament field after this weekend, the Johnnies will travel to no. 1 overall seed Virginia for their third round matchup on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.
"It was a gutsy performance against a very physical and good Syracuse team with a lot of talent," said Head Coach Dr. Dave Masur.
"It was really good to be able to come away with a victory. For the first half we were quite good, possessed a lot and the wind certainly helped."
The owner of a victory against NC State this season in addition to Saturday's win over the Orange, the Red Storm will look to remain unbeaten against ACC foes this season when it rolls into Charlottesville.
A national seed for the ninth time overall and the first time since 2011, the Red Storm will be making its first appearance in the round of 16 since the team advanced to its fourth College Cup in 2008. This year marks the program's 12th appearance all-time in the round of 16. The Johnnies advanced that far in 10 straight seasons from 1996-2005 before the aforementioned 2008 College Cup run.
Brandon Knapp and Skage Simonsen tallied the goals for St. John's, as Knapp opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Simonsen put the Red Storm ahead by a pair in the 36th. Sanoussi Sangary, making his first start and just his fifth appearance of the season, assisted on Knapp's marker. Tani Oluwaseyi picked up the helper on Simonsen's goal, increasing his point total to 27 on the year. Knapp found the back of the net for the fourth time this season, while his sophomore classmate Simonsen did so for the third time.
"A lot of guys stepped in," said Masur. "Ethan Shaw, Sanoussi, Cole Reardon, we used our whole roster," said Masur. "It was really good to see."
Jan Hoffelner played 45 scoreless first-half minutes to lower his goals against average to 0.57 and improve to 8-2-0 on the year. Luka Gavran did well to hold off a late Syracuse push in the second half, making two saves in a period that saw the Orange record 10 shots with the aid of a howling wind.
"After they scored, I thought Luka did well to keep his composure in the back and make a couple of big saves," said Masur.
After going back and forth with Syracuse for the first 15 minutes of game action, the Red Storm began to apply consistent pressure in the Orange's defense zone.
The Johnnies struck first a few minutes later in the 19th. Possessing on the right side of the pitch about 35 yards from the cage, Sangary played a ball in toward the penalty spot. The pass found its way perfectly to the head of Knapp, who flicked it to the bottom right corner of the cage and put the Red Storm on top, 1-0.
17 minutes later, the Johnnies moved ahead by a pair on just their second shot of the night. From close to the same spot that Sangary started the sequence that resulted in the evening's first goal, Oluwaseyi sent a ball toward the top of the box for Simonsen. The sophomore put a brilliant touch on the ball to possess before sending a right-footed shot across his body and into the bottom left corner of the net.
With the wind at its back in the second half, the Orange recorded its fair share of scoring chances. The Red Storm did well to preserve the lead, allowing just one goal on 10 shots and four corners for Syracuse in the latter stanza. Massimo Ferrin scored the Orange's lone goal of the match in the 69th minute, but Gavran and the Red Storm backline managed to thwart any attempts an equalizer.
Oluwaseyi nearly put the Red Storm on top by two with a pair of terrific scoring chances in the final 10 minutes, but neither opportunity resulted in a goal.
St. John's and Virginia will meet for the first time since 2013, when the Cavaliers ended the Red Storm's season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlottesville.