The St. John’s men’s soccer team opened its 2013 campaign with a 2-1 victory over NJIT on Friday night.
With Big East preseason Goalkeeper of the Year Rafael Diaz behind them, the Red Storm’s (1-0) offense kept the pressure on the Highlanders’ (0-1) keeper throughout the entire game and put the winning goal in net in the final 20 minutes.
Senior Jimmy Mulligan gave the Johnnies their first opportunity to score in the fourteenth minute as he played a through ball into the lower left post, but NJIT’s keeper was able to scoop it up. St. John’s had another opportunity just minutes later as junior Daniel Herrera drilled a ball into the near post after a pass inside the box from Mulligan, again saved by the Highlanders keeper.
The Red Storm were able to open the game up in the 33rd minute as sophomore Sean Sepe sent the ball past the keeper into the near post, assisted by senior Jamie Thomas. The goal marked Sepe’s first goal of his collegiate career.
“I really raised the tempo up and I just wanted to help the team,” Sepe said. “Someone played the down-the-line to Jimmy and he played a great ball in and I just rolled it to my left foot and put it into the corner.”
St. John’s continued to apply the pressure on the NJIT defense and hardly gave the Highlanders an opportunity to score – outshooting them eleven to one in the first half.
NJIT responded midway through the second half after their captain and forward broke away from the Johnnies’ defense and send the ball past Diaz to tie the game at one goal each with less than thirty minutes remaining.
The Red Storm continued to work the ball up the field and look for opportunities to score. After narrowly making a goal blocked by an NJIT defenseman on the goal line, Mulligan sent the ball from the 18-yard line into the upper right post and beyond the keeper’s reach to give them a 2-1 lead.
“Jimmy’s worked harder than everybody and stays with it all the time,” said head coach Dave Masur. “It was good to see him get a reward like that.
The Johnnies’ defense remained firm in the final minutes and did not make room for NJIT to launch a counter-attack as the final whistle blew to give the Red Storm the first victory of the season.