The newest member of the St. John’s men’s soccer team midfield is also
its most accomplished.
Two years ago, Jack Bennett, a junior winger from London, England, made the move from his hometown, population eight million, to Tyler Junior College, a two-year school in Tyler, Texas, population 96,900.
It was a long move, both geographically and culturally, facilitated by an acquaintance in England.
“An agent back home set me up with a tryout,” he said. “He had a connection [with Tyler] so that’s how I got slotted in there.”
Over the past two years, his team played in 42 games.
They didn’t lose any of them. Tyler went 41-0-1 en route to two consecutive national championships.
Bennett was an instrumental to those teams. He recorded 14 goals and 16 assists in his two seasons and earned NJCAA All-Region XIV honors in 2010.
This year he moved to New York City, population eight million, to play in the Big East for St. John’s.
“It’s a big step,” he said. “The JuCo I was at wasn’t as technical and wasn’t as fast as [the NCAA level].”
Still, his reputation preceded him, and he was expected to contribute right away.
“I had heard a lot about him from the coaching staff,” said senior central midfielder Pablo Punyed. “I expected him to make an impact.”
“Yes,” said head coach Dave Masur when asked if he thought Bennett would contribute so quickly.
His Division I career began inauspiciously. He was substituted out against No. 4 Maryland, and lost his first competitive college game, 3-0.
But he scored the game-winner in St. John’s upset victory over then-No. 8 William & Mary in his next game and hasn’t looked back. Since the Maryland game, he’s scored three goals, all of them game-winners, and played nearly every minute.
In addition, he’s caused opposing defenders all kinds of problems with his off-ball runs, crosses and his work ethic.
“He’s one of the fittest players I’ve ever seen,” said Punyed. “He brings a lot of energy, and a lot of tactical awareness.”
That awareness was on display in the Red Storm’s 2-0 win over Yale on Sept. 11. Seeing freshman right-back Tim Parker preparing to cross, Bennett made a far post run from the wing and met the ball just before it went over the end line. His header put the Johnnies on top.
“I saw Tim getting ready to make the delivery, and I took my chance,”
He remained active all night, putting up four shots and setting up his teammates for many others.
When he arrived at St. John’s, two of the stars of last year’s midfield, Tadeu Terra and Sverre Wegge Gundhus,
graduated, which meant that much has been expected right away of Bennett.
So far at least, he’s met every expectation.
“We haven’t really missed them much,” said Punyed.