Rouse plays hero, fires Johnnies into NCAA second round

The St. John’s men’s soccer team paved its way into the second round of the NCAA tournament after a 98th minute golden goal from Jordan Rouse that gave the Red Storm a 2-1 win over Delaware Thursday night at Delaware Mini Stadium.

It was the first NCAA tournament win for the Red Storm (11-6-2) since 2008.

“Anytime you get an NCAA win on the road it can be very memorable,” St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur said.

The Johnnies took the lead in the 17th minute after Gabriel Camara found the back of the net from 10 yards out after a Danny Bedoya corner.

The Red Storm kept the 1-0 lead until Delaware’s (14-5-1) Guillermo Delgado pounced on a flicked ball from a corner to level the score with 1:35 left in regulation. The 88th minute equalizer came at the end of a second half where the home side attacked with great fervor while the Johnnies spent much of the 45 minutes absorbing constant Blue Hens pressure.

“I think we were a little bit disappointed [after the Delaware goal],” Masur said. “The game has some crazy turns at times but the guys wanted to keep going.”

The lone overtime period was an open affair with both teams desperate to find the goal that would end a season. With just 1:05 left in the first overtime, Rouse picked up the ball in midfield and led a counter attack with strike partner Jelani Williams. Rouse drove into the box and slipped a pass to Williams, whose ensuing shot was blocked. Rouse managed to pounce on the loose ball and slotted home from just outside the 6-yard box.

“I’m very proud of these guys for this particular win because we had to come back [after] we gave up a goal there late after kind of hanging on,” Masur said.

The golden goal saw Delaware players shrink to the turf, dejected, as Rouse sprinted away, teammates close behind, in elation.

The Johnnies weren’t the only one’s left celebrating after the final whistle. A large crowd of St. John’s supporters that consisted of Red Zone – the University’s official student section – the cheer squad, the pep band, alumni and parents made the 3-hour trek to Delaware for the game. They were left with a reason to enjoy the long ride back to Queens.

“I think it really made the difference,” school spirit committee co-chair Jose Benitez said of the fan support. “The team played with so much energy and really fed off ours.”

“It was awesome,” Masur added. “We got a great group from the school to come. It was really nice.”

Masur’s men will face off against No. 8-seeded Virginia in the second round of the tournament on Sunday. The Red Storm fell to the Cavaliers 2-0 earlier this season.

“We have to deal with their [Virginia] athleticism and their attacking players and make sure we take care of the ball a little bit better,” Masur said.