Red Storm’s historic ride comes to “bittersweet” close

Stephen Zitolo, Sports Editor

All good things must come to an end.

The most historic, and undeniably greatest season in St. John’s women’s soccer came to an end on Friday night. The Red Storm couldn’t hold off a late run by Boston University as they fell 2-1 in overtime at Belson Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought it was a game of two halves in that we played very well to begin with. I’ll give Boston University a tremendous amount of credit because I thought they battled tremendously hard and put a lot of pressure on us in the second half and really dug a little bit deeper than we were able to tonight. I give Nancy Feldman a lot of credit,” head coach Ian Stone said. “She’s a tremendous coach and BU is a phenomenal program. You don’t win the number of conference championships that they’ve won without being a very very good team. Unfortunately, tonight we just came up on the wrong end of the result.”

In the first 35 minutes of action, on a freezing Saturday night, it looked as if the Red Storm (15-4-1) had everything under control.

They were playing their fast-paced attacking style and consistently putting pressure on Boston University’s backline. For the first 20 minutes, the Terriers (13-5-3) were able to hold off the Johnnies attack.

In the 21st minute, St. John’s finally broke through. Junior Morgan Tinari left off a corner kick to the front of the net that found the head of converging senior Rachel Daly.

Daly headed the ball towards the keeper as sophomore Jesse Schaefer broke to the front of the net. Schaefer took the header from Daly and lined up a header of her own that beat Boston University keeper Alyssa Parisi and gave the Johnnies a 1-0 lead.  The goal was Schaefer’s first of the year and second of her career.

St. John’s were on the cusp of scoring on two other occasions in the first half. Both times were on corner kicks from Tinari as in both the 15th and 25th minutes Rachel Daly let off shots to the right corner of the net. Both times the Terriers’ Jenna Fisher was there to turn her away.

The games turning point came with nine minutes left when Daly went down with a bad shin injury in the 41st minute. Daly had to be helped off the field and the Terriers seemed to have new life after that.

To no one’s surprise, Daly was back on the pitch when the second half started, but the Terriers came out and changed the games momentum by being the offensive aggressors. At the end of the first half, St. John’s led 10-4 in shots. In the second half and overtime, the Terriers out shot St. John’s 14-6.

The Red Storm held the Terrier attack at bay until the 78th minute, when Alexandra Cooper let off a shot and got it past outstretched junior keeper Diana Poulin to tie things up at one.

The game would remain scoreless for the rest of regulation and it would take overtime to decide the game.

The Terriers would be the one’s to find the net first in the sudden death overtime as 3:52 into the first extra period senior Clare Pleuler would find the net and end the Red Storm’s historic 2015 campaign.

Even though the Red Storm lost, the night was still historic as it was the first NCAA Tournament game to be played at Belson Stadium in program history.

The game marked the final time that the culture altering and record-breaking group of nine seniors would ever put on their St. John’s uniforms.

“These seniors have meant so much to this program because they’ve really taken the program to a different level,” Stone said. “For us to be able to host an NCAA Tournament game on Belson, compared to where we were when they came in, they just elevated it to a whole different level and it’s not just on the field, it’s kind of the personalities and the leadership they show off the field to the younger players as well.”

The seniors who stepped on the pitch for the final time were:  Rachel Daly, Georgia Kearney-Perry, Emily Cubbage, Shelby Halasz, Diamond Thomas, Alexis Urbanski, Katie DeVault, Alana Mitchem and Kelly Crevani.

“It’s obviously very bittersweet right now,” Kearney-Perry said. “I don’t think it’s sunk in fully yet, but I’m super proud and super humbled of everything we’ve achieved individually, as a program, as a team, over my five years here.

“It’s a beautiful program and we take pride in everything that we do and I think this season showed that.”