Hanging With the Best

In the first game of the University of Akron Tournament, the then No. 10 St. John’s men’s soccer team played to a 0-0 draw with the then No. 9 Akron Friday night in a match that was nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

The Red Storm (5-0-2) kept its composure in front of a crowd of more than 3,000 at FirstEnergy Stadium, but they could not capitalize on the few chances that they created against a stingy Zips defense.

“Akron is a great team and this was a great environment for a premiere college soccer game,” said head coach Dr. Dave Masur in a press release. “I thought we played hard and played well, so I’m proud of our guys. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish our chances and get the win, but now we move forward and prepare for Butler.”

Akron (3-1-2) had the edge in possession throughout the night, but the Johnnies did well to stifle their opponents crisp passing movements.

Red Storm junior goalkeeper Rafael Diaz, who was awarded the KFC player of the match award by Fox Soccer Channel, made a string of significant saves that kept Masur’s men from conceding any goals.

The first came in the 27th minute when Scott Caldwell attempted to curl his shot into the corner of the net from just inside the 18-yard box, only for Diaz to make an acrobatic, diving save.

The second came on the cusp of halftime when the New Jersey native parried Eric Stevenson’s blazing 20-yard strike over the crossbar.

The final, most imperative save, came in the 87th minute when the Johnnies’ first choice keeper denied a close range attempt from Caldwell that would have all but handed Akron a victory.

Masur’s men play their second and final game at the tournament Sunday against Butler.