If one were to look at the final shot tally between No. 22/15 St. John’s and Butler in Friday night’s Big East Tournament Semifinal, St. John’s would’ve looked like the clear winner. But, that wasn’t what the final outcome reflected at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
The top seeded Red Storm (15-3-1, 7-1-1 Big East) out shot fourth seeded Butler (15-6-1, 6-3 Big East) 26-5 (12-2 shots on goal) on the evening but the Bulldogs made the most of their opportunities as they defeated the Johnnies 2-1.
St. John’s had opportunities all night long to find the net but seemingly every cross, corner kick or shot on goal was hit with too much power or was just a foot too far to the left or right. The Red Storm struggled to find any offensive rhythm as they fell to the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs jumped onto the scoreboard first in the 10th minute as Serina Kashimoto scored on a free kick from 25 yards out and past an outstretched and injured Diana Poulin. The rest of the half saw the Red Storm trail on the scoreboard but they did have their chances to tie things up or take the lead as they had their share of opportunities outshooting Butler 12-3 at the half.
In the second half the Red Storm’s offense came out and looked even more dominant as they controlled the ball and put consistent pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense. The Bulldogs were able to slip down the field for what seemed like just a moment, but that was all they needed to find some insurance. In the 58th minute, Butler’s Paige Monaghan streaked down the left side of the field and let off a booming shot that hit off the fingertips of Diana Poulin and into the net for 2-0 Bulldog advantage.
With 32 minutes left, the Red Storm needed to score fast if they were going to get back into the game. In the 63rd minute, senior defender and captain Georgia Kearney-Perry found the scoring the Johnnies needed. Freshman Lucy Whipp controlled a booming free kick from senior Alexis Urbanski, the freshman got off a shot that the Butler keeper Madison Card deflected. Card’s deflection found a waiting Kearney-Perry who buried the ball past Card; Whipp was given an assist on the goal.
With only 27 minutes left St. John’s trailed 2-1. The Red Storm would, at times, have 10 players on the Butler side of the field to try and find the equalizer, but the Butler defense did a great job of keeping the Red Storm off kilter. The Bulldogs didn’t try to create offense for the last 15 minutes of game action. They focused on killing time and not getting over aggressive. The strategy paid off as Butler held off St. John’s and advanced to the Big East Tournament Final.
The possibility of the Red Storm’s season continuing hangs in the balance, as the NCAA selection committee will determine the team’s fate. The announcement of the 64 NCAA Tournament participants will come down at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9.
Prior to the game, the Red Storm’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which is a key stat used in determining who makes the NCAA Tournament, sat at 26th nationally. Butler’s RPI was at 102 prior to Friday night’s match. Even with the loss, the Johnnies most likely sit in a good position for selection in the NCAA Tournament due to their strong regular season.