No. 19 St. John’s returns to Belson with a win over Fairleigh Dickinson

Stephen Zitolo, Sports Editor

It was some of the old mixed in with the new on Sunday night for the St. John’s women’s soccer team as both senior Rachel Daly and freshman Lucy Whipp produced all the scoring the Red Storm would need as they defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 3-1 in their return to Belson Stadium after a six game road trip.

“I like the fact that we’re scoring goals,” St. John’s head coach Ian Stone said.  “But tonight was weird for me because there were times when we were really good and other times there were a lot of times when we played into their hand. I’ll give FDU a lot of credit. They didn’t get 14 wins last year by being a bad team. They’re tough, physical, and they work hard. But we have to find a way to be a little bit better in the situations when they put some pressure on us and play our game instead of theirs.”

Sunday’s game versus Fairleigh Dickinson (4-5) was another game in which Daly added to her already historic St. John’s legacy. Daly was apart of all three goals on the night as she assisted on Whipp’s goal in the games sixth minute and scored two goals of her own. Daly’s first goal of the night, coming on a penalty kick in the 13th minute, was her sixth on the year and also the 38th of her career. That 38th career goal garnered her sole possession of second place on the St. John’s all-time list as she passed St. John’s great Cristin Burtis. Daly would score again in the 78th minute for her 7th on the season and 39th in her career, putting her two goals behind Adriana Viola and the career goals record at St. John’s.

“It’s a tough one,” Daly said. “Obviously I want to set records, break records, and leave here making a name for myself. But more importantly, by me scoring it helps the team. So it’s a win-win. But at the end of the day if I keep scoring the team win and that’s the main thing.”

“I’m very proud of Rachel,” Stone said. “She’s a great scorer, but also a great leader as you saw tonight. She’s making everyone around her better by scoring and getting a few more assist this year.”

The game that young guns like Whip and sophomore Shea Connors had on Sunday for the Red Storm (8-1) shouldn’t be forgotten, as they were instrumental in the victory.

Whipp’s goal in the sixth minute was the first of her collegiate career as she forced the Fairleigh Dickinson keeper to charge forward into a one-on-one situation. Whipp jolted to the right of the keeper and created the open net look for herself for the score.

“It was a great feeling to get my first goal,” Whipp said. “Everyone has been saying its been coming so it was great to finally get it.  Rachel’s a great player and I feel like we play together well.”

Connor’s biggest impact on the game was during the 12th minute when she brought the ball to the left of the FDU keeper in the 18-yard box. Connors was swarmed by the Farleigh Dickinson defense and somehow was able to keep control of the ball and draw a foul in the box. That garnered the Johnnies a penalty kick, which Daly would put home.

“She’s [Connors] been very good this week,’ Stone said.  “She has been recovering from an injury from last year and she has just started to figure out what to do on a daily basis to get herself ready for games. But tonight was a break out game for her and Lucy. If we have both of those players playing wide it’s going to be an absolute nightmare for other teams outside backs.”

With St. John’s ending non-conference play with an 8-1 record heading into Big East play there aren’t many question marks for the team. But the biggest one is, who will the starting goalkeeper be? Graduate Student Katie DeVault has been nothing but impressive in her first year as a Johnnie and Diana Poulin has continued to be a dominant force in between the pipes. Coach Stone has a very tough decision on his hands, but it’s one he can’t go wrong with as both players are capable and deserving.

“It’s going to be a very difficult decision,” Stone said with a smile. “ But it’s going to be a great decision to make. We’ve been lucky over the years to have one great goalkeeper, but now we have to great goalkeepers. It makes me sleep a bit easier at night knowing if one gets hurt we have the other to step in. But you saw the positives of both of them today. Katie tends to calm us down and Diana made some great saves in the second half.”

The decision will be revealed on Sept. 27 at Belson Stadium as the Red Storm open up the Big East slate versus Seton Hall.