Naples Makes First Start for Injured Diaz

Redshirt sophomore keeper Rafael Diaz, who has six shutouts on the season, sat out in the St. John’s men’s soccer team 0-0 draw to Brown with a bruised tailbone according to his backup, redshirt sophomore Alex Naples

That gave an opportunity Naples, who made the first start of his collegiate career. He helped keep the Red Storm undefeated at home (4-0-2).

“I just wanted to help in any way I could,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a goal.”

“He didn’t think he could help to his full abilities today.” Naples said about Diaz.  Naples also said that he’s been mentally prepared to be put in at anytime his number was called.

“You need to always be prepared to go do what’s required of you at any minute.”

Although both goalies are competing to get the chance to perform as starters, they remain close off the field.

“Me and [Diaz] have a great relationship,” said Naples. “We have a good friendship both on and off the field.”

They can be seen practicing before games testing each other’s limits and preparing for the task at hand.

“It’s a friendly competiveness,” Naples said. “We just try and help each other get better,”

Senior defender Connor Lade worked just as well with Naples as he had with Diaz, leading a Red Storm that recorded its seventh shutout in 11 games.

“Alex is a great goalie,” he said, adding that he feels just as confident with Naples in the net. “Everyone has their own style and they have their own strengths and weaknesses.”

Naples said that he was expecting Brown to come in with an extremely organized offense.

“They stuck to what they came here to do,” he said. “Our defense played extremely well.”

Both Naples and Lade complimented the determination of Diaz to perform to the best of his abilities, even when he’s not completely healthy.

“Day by day he’s always prepared and ready to go,” Lade said.

“He’s been playing banged up for a while and he perseveres through it all,” Naples said.

While Naples and Diaz are friends, Naples will still be more than willing to be on the field if Diaz’s injury keeps him out longer.

“I’m always hoping to be out there,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”