Punyed Goal Shoots Down Cards

Senior defender Bjorn de Hoop helped the then-No.21/14 St. John’s men’s soccer team keep a clean sheet in his first home game back from injury as they defeated the then-No. 10/9 Louisville Cardinals 1-0 on Oct. 15.
The Big East game was a tight affair, but senior midfielder Pablo Battuto Punyed’s 49th minute goal and a solid performance from the St. John’s back line ensured the Red Storm’s (9-3-2, 3-2) victory.
The Johnnies’ defense put on an impressive display in the first half by holding Louisville (8-4-1, 1-3-1) to zero shots on goal. Although the first 10 minutes of the game saw the Cardinals control the majority of possession time, the Johnnies were successful in halting the Cardinal’s attack once the ball reached the home team’s 18-yard box.
“We did a good job at limiting Louisville’s possession forward,” said St. John’s head coach Dave Masur.
While the Johnnies’ defense was containing Louisville’s attack, the Red Storm had a couple of opportunities to open the scoring in the first 45 minutes, the most threatening being freshman defender Tim Parker’s low right-footed strike that was saved by Louisville’s senior goalkeeper Andre Boudreaux.
As the second half started Louisville began to assert themselves more in the Johnnies’ half of the field. After their shotless first half, the Cardinals’ first strike on goal came just four minutes into the second half. However, the St. John’s defense was ready for Louisville’s attacking onslaught and succeeded in keeping the Cardinals off of the scoreboard.
“We’ve been focusing on coming out good in the second half of games,” said senior defender Connor Lade.
After absorbing Louisville’s early attacks on goal, the Johnnies got on the scoreboard. Junior midfielder Jack Bennett played Punyed a neat pass in Louisville’s 18-yard box and Punyed successfully slotted the ball into the net. The goal was his third of the season.
Masur said that the goal started from “a great punt” from sophomore goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.
Louisville’s best chance to score in the second half came with 13 minutes left in regulation. Senior midfielder Nick DeLeon found himself in a one-on-one situation with Rafael Diaz and failed to find the back of the net thanks to the keeper’s point-blank save.
The central defensive tandem of Lade, who was named the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Week for the second week this season, and de Hoop made certain that the victory was preserved after Diaz’s heroics.
However, the victory was not the only achievement that was celebrated Saturday night. de Hoop’s solid performance was a promising sight for the Johnnies, considering his recurring knee problem that has limited him to just seven games since the beginning of last season.
de Hoop said about the injury, “It drives you. It makes you want to improve and get better.”
Although the Holland native said that his knee is “all good” he still expects to see more improvement.
“I have to keep playing consistently,” he said. “I have a long way to go.”
Lade added that, “[de Hoop] is a solid player. He’s always ready to step in. It’s been a seamless transition.”
The win brings Johnnies to third in the Big East’s Red division. They will travel to Villanova on Oct. 19 to continue conference play.