Eight different goal scorers, 15 players who have been included in the starting XI, impact freshmen and upperclassmen playing out of position. If there was one word that best describes the St. John’s men’s soccer team, it’s versatile.
Versatility is the name of the game for Dr. Dave Masur’s undefeated team. En route to their 5-0-1 record, Masur’s men have managed to display a brand of soccer that is pleasant to the purist’s eye even though their starting lineup has been a ‘mix-and-match’ project.
Since the Red Storm’s 3-0 opening victory over Boston University, coach Masur has done a great deal of experimentation with his team. Two freshmen, Brandon Savino and John Egan, the latter being a redshirt, have started each of the Red Storm’s first six games this season, Brazilian Gabriel Camara has made five starts, Sean Sepe has made two and redshirt freshman, Taylor Cole, started his first collegiate match on Saturday night in a 2-1 win over William & Mary.
Other than the infusion of youth in the squad, Masur has been employing one of last year’s main offensive catalysts, Jack Bennett, at the left back position.
The London native scored a team-high six goals last season, five of them being game-winners — including the golden goal in the Big East Tournament Final.
However, with the loss of left back Chris Lebo to graduation, Bennett has been plying his trade at the fullback position.
Last season, Lebo was granted the freedom to roam up the left flank to add numbers to the attack, and Bennett has continued where his predecessor left off, as the Londoner has been consistently linking up with the midfielders in front of him, adding a great deal of pressure to opposing defenses with his quick feet and intelligent decision-making.
However, while Bennett has been primarily focused on his defensive duties, the men heading the St. John’s attack have been more than holding their own.
Masur has a quintet of forwards at his disposal in senior Andres Vargas, junior Jimmy Mulligan, sophomore Daniel Hererra and freshmen Jelani Williams and Danny Bedoya, who have all notched at least one goal thus far this season.
Adding to the latter fact, Masur has been able to choose different strike pairs as each of the front men has the ability to play within the team system while still adding their bit of personal influence to the game.
Mulligan and Herrera manipulate matches with their poise and grace on the ball, Vargas adds energy, pace and physicality off the bench and the freshmen duo of Williams and Bedoya bring fearlessness and flair when running at the defense.
As this team moves forward and players continue to find new roles in Masur’s system, one aspect of the St. John’s men’s soccer team will always remain firm: their playing style.
Since Masur has been at the helm, his teams have continually been organized, well-versed with the tactical aspects of the game and comfortable on the ball.
This year’s team is no different. Whether Jack Bennett is playing left back, left wing or is placed in the center of midfield, it’s safe to bet that he’ll stay within the realm of the St. John’s soccer philosophy.
So, while it is impossible to guarantee what players will start the Johnnies’ next game at no. 9 Akron on Sept. 14, it is safe to assume that the defense will remain firm, the midfield will be elegant with their touches on the ball, the forwards will make clever runs in behind the defense and coach Masur will be on the touchline, bellowing instructions to his players, or sitting on the bench, legs crossed, watching his team slowly come into their own.