Leaverton Notches Early Winner as St. John’s tops Rutgers
A quick goal and a solid first start from sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Ferris lifted the St. John’s women’s soccer team to a 1-0 road victory against Rutgers in the first match of their four-game Big East road trip.
The Johnnies (7-4-1, 3-2 Big East) scored the lone goal of the match just 4:01 after the first whistle. Following a Rutgers turnover, junior midfielder Runa Stefansdottir received the ball and sent a diagonal pass towards senior forward Jen Leaverton. Leaverton found herself in a one-on-one situation with the Rutgers goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
The first half saw an even-sided match with both teams sharing a similar percentage of possession. St. John’s was content with playing the ball on the ground while Rutgers (6-5-1, 1-3-1 Big East) chose to find their attacking players through the air. However, by the end of the first 45 minutes, Rutgers had a significant lead in shots, 9-3.
In the second half, the Scarlet Knights controlled a great deal of possession. They continued their first half routine of launching long balls towards their wing players, which resulted in a high number of corner kicks and one-on-one situations.
“I think we got a bit complacent after the quick start,” head coach Ian Stone said. “We weren’t possessing the ball the way we would have liked.”
However, the Johnnies’ defenders responded by maintaining an organized defensive shape and conducting well-timed tackles in and around their 18-yard box.
“We defended well throughout the game despite the physicality of Rutgers,” said Stone.
The final 20 minutes of the game saw Rutgers threaten the St. John’s goal on a numerous number of occasions. They took 14 second half shots compared to St. John’s one. Nonetheless, with the regular starting goalkeeper Kristen Russell not playing due to injury, Lauren Ferris stepped up and made five second half saves, including one from just five yards out in the 87th minute.
Following Ferris’ point-blank save, the Johnnies successfully absorbed the last of Rutgers’ attacks on goal by moving from the 4-3-3 formation they were sporting for the majority of the game to a 4-4-2 and sealed the victory.
“We wanted an extra player to help defend because Rutgers was pressuring us a lot in the final minutes of the game,” said Stone.
Concerning the performance of Lauren Ferris, Stone was extremely pleased. “She played well for her first start. She showed confidence and composure. I was impressed.”
Russell, who was injured in last week’s loss against Georgetown, received an MRI on Saturday and will miss the Seton Hall game on Sunday, according to Stone.
Although satisfied with the victory, Stone wants his team to show some offensive improvement as the season progresses.
“We weren’t sharp offensively against Rutgers and we didn’t play our style of soccer after the quick start. I want us to focus on that for our upcoming matches.”
St. John’s continues their road trip with a game at Seton Hall on Oct. 2.