Women’s soccer’s historic season continues

Stephen Zitolo, Sports Editor

The 2015 regular season campaign, to date, has certainly been the most historic for the St. John’s women’s soccer team. That trend continued on Friday night as the Red Storm took on Providence in the final regular season matchup of the season.

Going into the game one fact was certain: a win would clinch the program’s first ever-regular season Big East title, the No. 1 seed in the Big East tourney and a first round bye.  A loss or tie would drop the Red Storm to the No. 3 seed in the conference tourney and take away the first round bye.

For 89 minutes the game would remain scoreless and the historic achievement looked like it may be slipping away. But in the game’s 89th minute, St. John’s turned to its all-time goal scorer, senior Rachel Daly, and she did just that: score. In the games final minutes the no. 23/19 Red Storm (15-2-1, 7-1-1 Big East)

Their 1-0 lead would hold up as they defeated Providence (12-7, 5-4 Big East) and secured two program records, the team’s first ever Big East Regular Season Championship and the most wins in a single season (15).

“I’m really proud of the girls because all season they’ve battled hard, they’ve learned lessons and that was not an easy game right there,” Stone said. “To come out on top against a very good Providence team and to win the first-ever Big East Regular Season title is a just reward for the amount of work they’ve put in and the amount of talent we’ve got as a team.”

The opportunity for the Daly score developed as a result of a penalty that sophomore Shea Connors drew 30 yards out from the Providence goal.  The Red Storm then turned to a little trickery as they had three players, Daly, sophomore Mikhaila Martinov and junior Morgan Tinari, line-up over the ball. Daly and Tinari faked as if they were going to send in the ball and then Martinov shot it towards a streaking Tinari. Tinari crossed the ball with precision towards the front of the net to a charging Daly. Daly headed the cross past the Providence keeper with only 1:09 left in the match to give the Johnnies the 1-0 lead.

The goal for Daly was her 19th on the season and the 50th of her legendary career. In both the men’s and women’s program at St. John’s Daly is only the second player to score 50 career goals.

The other was Huey Ferguson on the men’s side. Ferguson was a two-time All-American and Big East Offensive Player of the Year for and recorded 50 goals from 1991-94. What makes Daly’s mark even more impressive is that she has the 50-goal plateau in only three seasons. Tinari’s assist on the Daly score marked her ninth on the season, giving her the most in the Big East.

Diana Poulin’s shutout of the Friars was the team’s 12th on the season and gave her the 31st win of her career. The win moves her one out of a tie for first in program history with Kristin Russell.

“I thought it was a tremendous team performance,” Stone said. “Providence came out flying against us. We were resolute in our defending.

“Diana [Poulin] made a couple of big saves in the first half and then I felt we made some adjustments in the second half: got the ball on the ground, possessed it through midfield much better.”

The Red Storm’s next game will be in Omaha as the No. 1 seed in the Big East. They will take on the winner of the Butler versus Marquette game on Nov. 6.

“Now, obviously, we’ve kind of got to do it all over again,” Stone said. “We have the top seed in the Big East Tournament, but six of those teams that have made it are fantastic teams. We have a tremendous amount of respect for all of them, so now it’s a question of making sure that we recover, regenerate our bodies and then get ready to go again next Friday.”

On Tuesday, the Big East announced its yearly awards and St. John’s walked away with an historic amount of postseason accolades. Rachel Daly was a unanimous selection for Big East Offensive Player of the Year.

Georgia Kearney-Perry was selected as Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Diana Poulin was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year and Ian Stone and his staff were honored with Big East Coaching Staff of the Year accolades.

The honor for Stone marked the second such selection of his career. Daly, Poulin and Kearney-Perry all received there respective honors for the second time in their careers.

Poulin and Kearney-Perry earned their accolades for the second straight season.  Daly and Kearney-Perry were the only unanimous First Team selections in the conference.

Emily Cubbage found a spot on the All-Big East Second Team for the second straight season and freshman Anna Maria Baldursdottir and Lucy Whipp were named to the All-Freshman team. Whipp earned a unanimous selection.