Gamecock Classic Victors

The St. John’s men’s soccer team had a successful weekend at the Gamecock Classic, winning both of their games at the South Carolina University-hosted event. The Red Storm bounced back from a shock 1-1 draw with Colgate University last week and defeated South Carolina 2-0 on Friday night before edging past Kentucky 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. The two victories lifted the Johnnies to a 3-0-1 record going into their two-game home stand this week

St. John’s 2, South Carolina 0

The then No. 15/18 St. John’s men’s soccer team earned an impressive early season victory, beating South Carolina 2-0 in their first game of the Gamecock Classic in Columbia, South Carolina.

Goals from junior midfielder Nick Matthews and senior forward Andres Vargas lifted the Red Storm (2-0-1) to their second victory win in three games.

On what was their first road trip of the regular season, the Johnnies showed improvement from their match with Colgate University five days earlier.

The first 45 minutes saw few goal scoring opportunities, as both teams needed time to find their offensive rhythm. South Carolina’s (1-1-0) most dangerous attempt on goal came in the 30th minute when a scuffle in the box gave two different Gamecock players a chance to open the scoring only for sophomore defender Jordan Rouse to make a last ditch tackle.

As the second half began, St. John’s found a firmer footing in the match, forcing their hosts to defend patiently with their crisp passing game.

“We had more consistency on the attacking side,” said St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur. “We were more active and had the advantage on shots.”

Senior winger Jack Bennett led an impressive Johnnies attack as he recorded five shots and exhibited his attacking keenness as he displayed no fear while taking on defenders in one-on-one situations.

After freshman Jelani Williams was subbed on in the 76th minute, he displayed the same savvy offensive mindset as Bennett. Despite receiving a yellow card after just two minutes on the pitch, Williams set up the Red Storm’s opening goal after he raced past a fullback before firing a shot off the post that Nick Matthews tapped in.

“Jelani has a feel for it [taking people one] and had a good shot on goal; and
Nicky was there for a great goal,” said Masur.

The Johnnies added their second goal came seven minutes later after Andres Vargas headed home a well-struck free kick from Bennett. The goal was Vargas’ second goal of the season.

St. John’s 2, Kentucky 1

First half goals from senior midfielder Juan Aguiar and senior winger Jack Bennett led the St. John’s men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Kentucky Sunday afternoon to clinch the Gamecock Classic title.

“I thought we exhibited another total team effort today and had a lot of guys
contribute to this result,” said head coach Dr. Dave Masur in a press release. “We did a good job of maintaining possession and controlling the game and we are happy to come home with a pair of wins on our first road trip.”

The Red Storm (3-0-1) opened the scoring just nine minutes after kick-off when
Juan Aguiar and Nick Matthews displayed a tidy sequence of one-touch passing that culminated with Aguiar slotting the ball into the corner of the net for his first career goal.

Showing admirable grit, Kentucky (0-3-0) struck back three minutes later when St. John’s junior goalkeeper Rafael Diaz couldn’t handle Tyler Riggs’ 25-yard strike.

However, the Johnnies canceled out Riggs’ equalizer in the 20th minute when Jack Bennett fired home from the penalty spot after a foul in the box. Bennett’s goal, along with his assist in the South Carolina game and seven total shots at the Game-cock Classic, earned him the Offensive MVP award and an inclusion in the All-Tournament team.

Other Red Storm players that were included in the Best XI were sophomore defender Tim Parker, junior midfielder Jamie Thomas, and junior goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.

The Johnnies will look to win their third consecutive game of the season when they host Princeton on Sept. 5 at Belson Stadium.