Enter San Man

Last October, the men’s soccer team started conference play 1-1-3, quite the shocker considering the Red Storm had come within one game of a shot at the national championship the season before.

Sure, they had a new goalkeeper in place, but its defenders and star scorers were mostly returning players, and 1-1-3 seemed too outrageous for a team coached by someone of Dave Masur’s quality.

The misfortune didn’t last, as the team rattled off a 10-game unbeaten streak to end the regular season and won its eighth Big East championship without allowing a single goal in the conference tournament.

So when the team started 0-3 in conference play this year—with a 2-1 non-conference overtime road win over Yale sprinkled in between—there wasn’t much to panic over. After their Oct. 9 home shutout loss ?to Cincinnati, the Red Storm didn’t lose again, starting a six-game shutout streak during which the team went 4-0-2 and earned the third seed in the Red Division of the conference tournament.

Did you happen to notice the makeup of this year’s team? A new goalie in freshman Rafael Diaz, a veteran roster led by Tadeu Terra and Sverre Wegge Gundhus, and Dave Masur at the helm—?eerily similar to last year’s squad. Were you surprised things turned out the way they did this time around? I wasn’t either.

There are a few things in life that are guaranteed—death, taxes, and a disciplined St. John’s men’s soccer team with Masur leading the way. Teams may face ups and downs during a season—as Masur has told this publication—but in histeam’s case, the ups generally come in a much more timely fashion during the season, just in time for the start of postseason play.

“We did believe [that things would get better],” Tadeu Terra said after Saturday’s win over South Florida. “We were working hard. We were playing well, besides maybe the Notre Dame game. All the other games, even though we lost or tied, we really played well. We knew that if we kept working hard and doing everything we were supposed to do, the wins were going to come like they did. Now we’ve won four games in a row and are able to play one more [at home] in the Big East Tournament.”

That’s because this is what Masur’s teams prepare for. Like the New York Yankees, the postseason is what matters. The goal, from the season’s start to its finish, is a Big East championship. The regular season works as an extended exhibition, a means of preparation for the playoffs that follow.

“We’re worried about the next game in front of us,” Masur said. “That’s all we can worry about, so we’re very focused on each game. Each game takes on its own story and we prepare hard for each game.”

In each of the last three seasons, the Red Storm have built to a crescendo that has exploded on Halloween weekend. Two seasons ago, the Red Storm won the Big East regular season. Last season, the Johnnies extended their home unbeaten streak to 20 games. This year, the win on Halloween’s Eve catapaulted them into position to earn a home playoff game in the Big East Tournament’s opening round.

Tonight’s game against Marquette—an opponent the Red Storm didn’t face this season—will go a long way in determining just how much the similarities will stick, and just how much that momentum will guide the team. Last season, St. John’s started the conference tournament on the road, earning a 3-0 win over Rutgers and steamrolling through the rest of the tournament. This year, the road gets a little easier, with the team starting its postseason run with a home game.

With Masur leading the way, another deep postseason run is certainly plausible.