Johnnies show signs of improvement with first win

Troy Mauriello, Staff Writer

Things are starting to look up for the St. John’s men’s soccer team, as they played two strong games over the past week against Denver and Siena at Belson Stadium.

After a full five days off since their last game on September 6th, the Johnnies were back in action on Saturday night against Denver. The Pioneers came into the game undefeated at 3-0-1 and ranked number 19th nationally, however St. John’s would control much of the game early.

Nine minutes into the game, freshman forward Filippo Ricupati scored the first goal of his collegiate career to give the Red Storm a 1-0 lead. Ricupati was able to bang in a header from inside the box after a nice set up from  senior midfielder Luis Esteves and fellow freshman forward Mike Prosuk.

10 minutes later, St. John’s had two more golden chances to double their lead. First it was Prosuk who nearly beat Denver goalkeeper Dan Jackson with a blazing shot in the 21st minute, while just one minute later Ricupati nearly scored on another header from inside the box.

The Red Storm took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and continued to hold off Denver into the second half, but their resistance would eventually be broken. The Pioneers Cole Stevenson would finally beat redshirt senior golalkeeper Jordan Stagmiller after a nice pass into the box in the 61st minute to level things at one.

Each team would have a few decent chances towards the end of regulation, but eventually the game would go into overtime tied at one. But Denver would nearly end the game in the 95th minute if not for an exceptional diving save by  Stagmiller to keep the game going.

However, just two minutes later a shot by Denver’s Chandler Crosswait would be deflected in by the Red Storm for an own goal, giving the Pioneers a 2-1 overtime victory.

“Really gutsy effort by our guys,” St. John’s head coach Dave Masur said. “But we’re a young team playing against top level competition, so we’ve got to keep pushing forward.”

The Johnnies would continue their home stand with a matchup against the Siena Saints on Tuesday night, and once again they would jump out to an early lead. This time it was Gabriel Camara who delivered his first goal of the season off a corner kick to give the Red Storm a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.

St. John’s would hold Siena without a shot for the entire first half, as they would take a 1-0 lead going into halftime.  That defensive domination would continue well into the second half, as Siena would not record a shot until the 72nd minute.

Despite a few late chances for the Saints, goalkeeper Andrew Withers and the Red Storm defense would hold off the Siena charge, giving St. John’s their first victory of the season.

“I was pleased that we came out and concentrated very well,” Masur said after his team’s first win. “Some guys were tired, it was our second game in three days, but overall pretty well…we got more subs in…so it was good to see a lot more guys help the group out.”

After a much-improved week, St. John’s will next face off with the Wisconsin Badgers at home on Saturday night.