The Torch

Withers Recognized for Stellar Play

The St. John's redshirt junior goalkeeper is in the midst of the best season of his college career

Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

Derrell Bouknight, Co-Sports Editor

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Andrew Withers entered Saturday’s Big East opener against Seton Hall with a winner’s mentality, his confidence high with the thought of his teammates backing him at every moment, even as he stands alone in front of the net he must protect at all costs.

The 10 teammates that share the field with him are his support system, his twenty eyes and ears for added stability. Yet when a ball flies off the foot of an opponent and heads towards the territory he zones off for 90 minutes a night, Withers must react, and react quickly.

On Sept. 11, conference offices recognized Withers for his efforts, naming him Big East Goalkeeper of the Week for the first time in his career.

The redshirt junior from Wellington, New Zealand held opponents scoreless for over 200 minutes of action during the week, registering consecutive shutouts against Hofstra and Temple. The two games accounted for Withers’ third shutout in five games.

Currently, Withers lead the Big East in goals against average and save percentage. Much of his success on the field comes from what he learned from last season.

“I think it’s just the experience and the mentality of what it takes to play at a Division I Big East program,” said Withers in an interview. “The physicality of the Big East, obviously, and the non-conference games as well. So it’s really just the experience that carried over and how I can help the team, especially the younger guys.”

Last season as a sophomore, Withers appeared in all 17 games, making 15 starts. According to RedStormSports.com, he ranked second in the Big East and eighth nationally in save percentage (.840) and second in the conference in goals against average (0.77).

As of Monday, Withers had allowed just three goals in seven matches, including four shutouts. NCAA.com has him ranked eighth in the country in goals against average and fifth in save percentage.

He attributed much of his recognition to the overall defensive effort of the team.

“I think we’ve been solid so far,” said Withers. “I think we’ve given up a few goals that we [didn’t] really want to give up. But I think we’ve been solid. Everyone has played their part in trying to stick to their role and really get the clean sheets.”

A week after his award was announced, a span in which the Red Storm improved its winning streak to four games, Withers was also named to the Big East weekly honor roll for giving up just one goal to UC Santa Barbara and holding Seton Hall scoreless in the team’s 1-0 victory in the Big East opener.

The team returns to action Saturday night against Xavier at Belson Stadium. Now that conference play is in full swing, Withers anticipates the intensity level will increase.

Moving forward, he doesn’t plan to change anything, but to continue to grow and help his team win.

With the heart of the schedule approaching, including four straight games on the road following a home contest with Xavier this Saturday, Withers and the rest of the Red Storm look to build on what they’ve established early on this season. Individually, his main goal is to get better with every opportunity.

“I just want to keep improving, keep playing well,” he said. “Just showing how hard I’ve been working to get to this position.”

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Withers Recognized for Stellar Play