The No. 11 St. John’s men’s soccer team were handed a senior night defeat from their Big East rivals Rutgers 1-0 in double overtime.
The result handed the Red Storm (10-5-2, 4-4-0) their first home loss of the season.
The fans at Belson were almost treated to goals from three different seniors on Wednesday night, but they couldn’t find the touch in front of goal. Instead of celebrating an emotional victory in front of their families, the Johnnies were left trying to take positives out of the loss.
“We played pretty well most of the game,” said senior defender Connor Lade. “We controlled a lot of the play and had a lot of opportunities to win it. We have to find more ways to get things done and not dwell on it.”
Senior midfielder Pablo Battuto Punyed added, “We created many opportunities and we outshot them. We know that we can beat them [Rutgers)].”
Punyed almost left his mark on his final regular season home game twice in the first 45 minutes when he was awarded two free kicks in the span of 15 minutes. His first free kick was curling towards the upper left hand corner of the net but Rutgers (9-5-2, 6-1-1) junior keeper Kevin McMullen pushed it away with a diving save. Punyed’s second strike bent up and over the Rutgers wall but was pushed up against the crossbar from McMullen’s fingertips. The keeper ended the game with 10 saves.
The Johnnies put in threatening attacks throughout the game. Two of the most promising opportunities were created towards the end of regulation by senior fullback Chris Lebo. First, Lebo raced down the left flank, cut right and struck a curling shot that was saved by McMullen. The second came when the senior defender drilled a low cross into the box which found sophomore forward Andreas Vargas, who managed to direct the ball towards the Rutgers goal, but failed to find the back of the net.
In the first overtime period, senior forward Walter Hines almost raced his way in behind the Scarlet Knight defense to score the golden goal. However, he was beaten to the ball by McMullen and was left ruing his missed chance.
The second overtime period saw the Johnnies push forward most of their numbers as they were pressuring to find a winner. However, the Scarlet Knights caught the Red Storm on a counter attack and Rutgers senior forward Ibrahim Kamara raced up field with the ball where he eventually dribbled around St. John’s sophomore goalkeeper Alex Naples and passed the ball into the net to end the game.
Kamara and the Scarlet Knights celebrated the win while the St. John’s players dropped to the turf in utter shock.
“We were pushing a lot of numbers forward trying to get the win,” said Lade. “Its unfortunate we got caught a little on the break, not tracking guys all the way through.”
Punyed added that, “[Rutgers] came in for a tie and we give them one opportunity on the breakaway and they put it in.”