Week in Review: Soccer Undefeated In Conference Play

TORCH+PHOTO%2F+Sara+Kiernan

TORCH PHOTO/ Sara Kiernan

The St. John’s Soccer program went 3-0 in Big East Conference play last week enroute to another successful week for Red Storm Athletics. Both Men’s and Women’s Soccer are undefeated in conference play and look poised to compete for the conference title. 

The Men’s team secured a win in their only game of the week, defeating Creighton by a score of 2-0 at Belson Stadium. Creighton took control of Red Storm territory early in the first half, in part, due to the Johnnies’ defensive miscues. However, the Johnnies settled in nicely and controlled the tempo and ball movement throughout the final 80 minutes of the match. Wesley Leggett finally got one past Creighton goalkeeper Paul Kruse in the 69’ to get the Red Storm on the board, and Atila Ashrafi added another for insurance ten minutes later. Reigning Big East Goalkeeper of the week, Luka Gavran, kept the game scoreless to secure the Johnnies’ fifth straight win. 

The Women’s Soccer team had a much tougher journey to their 2-0 Big East start. The Red Storm traveled to Connecticut for a Thursday night matchup with the Huskies, decisively winning 3-0. Brooke Boyd, Zsani Kajan, and Isabelle Aviza all scored for the Johnnies and Naya Lipkens made two saves to secure the clean sheet. Kajan’s goal was her 10th of the season, making her the first player in program history to record a double-digit goal total in three seasons (‘18, ‘19, ‘21). 

The Women’s Soccer team’s quick turnaround to their Sunday afternoon Big East Conference home opener versus DePaul made for a much tougher match. “Part of that game, to be honest with you, was DePaul not playing on Thursday and us having to go to Connecticut,” said Head Coach Ian Stone in a postgame interview with The Torch. “[DePaul] got the bye on Thursday and we traveled to Connecticut and had a tough road game.” 

Despite the obstacles, sophomore midfielder Ava Collins put the Red Storm in front in the sixth minute of the match. The 1-0 advantage would be all the Johnnies needed, as they held that lead for 84 more minutes behind Naya Lipkens’ 12 saves. The team’s fatigue showed as the game progressed, with DePaul shooting 17 shots compared to St. John’s seven. The Women’s Soccer team now sits at 6-2-1 overall and 2-0-0 in conference play on the season, with all of their victories coming in shutout fashion. 

Women’s Volleyball opened conference play Saturday with a road match versus Connecticut, falling in three sets. The Red Storm were barely edged out by the Huskies, losing their sets 25-23, 25-22 and 26-24. Rachele Rastelli, third in the NCAA in total points, continued her season-long dominance with 13 kills in the match. The Johnnies had a chance to rebound just a day later at Seton Hall on Sunday, and rebound they did. Women’s Volleyball defeated the Pirates in four sets behind Klara Mikelova’s double-double featuring 14 kills and 12 digs. The team is now 10-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play ahead of their Big East home opener on Friday versus Creighton. 

The Women’s Cross Country team returned to action for the first time in two weeks with a strong 3rd place finish at the Jasper Invite. Claire Cushing placed third overall in the 6k race with a personal best time of 21:59.2. Katherine Bruno finished fifth overall with a time of 22:16.2, and Mia Forster (14th), Hannah Huleatt (24th), and Tiffany-Ann Matturro (45th) rounded out the scoring for the Red Storm. This is the first time since 2018 that the Cross Country team has placed top five in consecutive races to open the fall season, but the team must tighten up the back end of its top five runners to contend into championship season. 

St. John’s Golf returned to action last weekend at a pair of invitational tournaments. The Men’s Golf team finished fourth overall at the Macdonald Cup, led by senior Tyler Gerbavsits who tied for 14th place individually. The Women’s Golf team did not fare as well, placing 12th in the team standings. They were guided by senior Jessie Kweon and sophomore Angelica Kusnowo with a three-round score of 228, which was ten strokes above par. 

The strong start to the season by all Red Storm units is worthy of attention, but it is important to note the level of which both soccer programs are performing. The Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams were both picked to finish sixth in the annual coaches poll, but both teams are primed to contend for a Big East title. Their strong 2-0-0 starts are just the beginning of a competitive stretch of conference play in Queens.