The St. John’s men’s soccer team was rolling going into Saturday night’s game at Creighton. They had won two straight games, and were unbeaten in their last four after a poor start to begin the season.
But the Red Storm had not yet faced a test the size of their opponent on Saturday.Going into Saturday night, the Blue Jays were undefeated at 11-0, and ranked at number one overall in the country.
The Johnnies knew going in that they had to play a near-perfect game to score an upset win, or even just pick up a tie, and they nearly did just that.
St. John’s kept the Blue Jay offense at bay for much of the night, but then a Creighton goal near the end of regulation broke a 1-1 tie, and the Blue Jays escaped with a dramatic victory to stay undefeated.
Early on in the game, it appeared like Creighton would be on their way to another easy win. The Blue Jays earned three corner kicks in the game’s first nine minutes, with the third one resulting in a goal.
First off, forward Timo Pitter delivered a timely pass to his fellow forward Fabian Herbers, who struck a shot that deflected past St. John’s redshirt senior goalkeeper Jordan Stagmiller to make it 1-0.
Stagmiller had to make a few more acrobatic saves early on in the game to keep the score at 1-0. Herbers nearly scored again in the 19th minute before being turned away by Stagmiller, and the goalkeeper denied two more Creighton chances in the next seven minutes.
Overall the Blue Jays dominated the first half, as they outshot St. John’s 9-2 and doubled up the Red Storm in corner kicks 4-2, which forcing Stagmiller to make five saves. The Johnnies were fortunate to trail only by a goal going into halftime.
But like many St. John’s games this season, Saturday night was a tale of two halves. The Johnnies came out firing with four scoring opportunities in the first 13 minutes of the second half, but they were unable to register a shot on goal as they continued to trail by one.
As the Red Storm continued to pressure Creighton and control things in the second half, they would eventually break through for an equalizer. In the 79th minute, junior midfielder Marti Tapia headed the ball into the box and freshman forward Filippo Ricupati neatly slotted a bicycle kick into the back of the net to tie things at one.
The goal for Ricupati was his team-leading third of the season. With just over 10 minutes left in regulation it seemed as though things may be headed for overtime.
However with just three minutes left in regulation, Creighton found the game winner that broke the Johnnies hearts. Defender Noah Franke blasted a rebound past Stagmiller to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish.
“Creighton has a great program and they are undefeated for a reason,” said head coach Dave Masur. “But we played right with them and are certainly disappointed to not come away with a result.”
Following the tough loss, St. John’s will return home on Wednesday night for another conference battle against Xavier.