Men’s Soccer Falls To Rutgers In Quarterfinals Of Big East Tournament

UNIONDALE, NY -The successful but grueling regular season that never saw the Red Storm fall out of the national rankings is now over. After posting a 13-3-2 record, Head Coach Dave Masur had high hopes for his squad and the Big East Tournament was the perfect showcase for his players. The St. John’s University men’s soccer team fell to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers 3-2, in double overtime at Mitchel Field on Sunday evening.

This was a must-win game for RU as it needed to advance to have a legitimate shot at an NCAA bid. Ranked seventh in the conference, Rutgers had its back up against the wall all season, losing Egyptian international Sherif El-Bialy to academic problems and Dennis Ludwig to an appendectomy.

However, the Scarlet Knights picked the most opportune time to get its leaders back in the offensive third.

“It makes a big difference getting them [El-Bialy and Ludwig] back. We went so long without two of our attacking players.” Rutgers Head Coach Bob Reasso said.

“Dennis [Ludwig] is not match fit and Sherif [El-Bialy] is not match fit, but we made a decision to keep them in late because they were our best chances to score. This is a big win for us and it’s a great rivalry because they [St. John’s] are always a great team.”

“Davey [Masur] is a good friend of mine and he really has a great team so you have to feel for them. As I said to Dave, they still have soccer left to play. They will make the NCAAs.” While this is certainly the likely scenario, the Red Storm has a tough road to make the College Cup. With the loss, St. John’s risks losing home field advantage for the first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Heading into the early evening contest, the St. John’s defense had allowed only one goal in 46 minutes and seven seconds that spanned six games. This time the SJU offense took the initiative just seven minutes into regulation.

Shalrie Joseph took passes from Paul Szewczyk and Marlon Rojas in the box and chipped the ball over keeper Ricky Zinter’s head to stake the Red Storm to a 1-nil lead.

With the game action ranging from endline to endline, both teams fitness were challenged. It was a fast-paced game with both teams playing aggressive balls and making hard tackles.

El-Bialy equalized for Rutgers in the 31st minute as he blasted a shot from 15 yards out past a stunned Jeff Stoklosa.

“I think it was El-Bialy and Ludwig up front that caused havoc for our defense. We might not have been as consistent as we have been in the past, but I still think our guys played well,” Masur said.

The potent front line of the Scarlet Knights would strike again just over 10 minutes after it knotted play at 1-1. Ludwig charged the goal and Stoklosa came to make a hard tackle. The referees awarded Rutgers a penalty kick for the illegal takedown in the box. El-Bialy calmly stepped up and buried the ball left post.

As has been the story all season, the Red Storm’s leading point getter with 24 points (11 goals, two assists), Joseph took a ball in the box, faked his defender out left, then spun around right to take a shot far post on the ground that beat Zinter. Rojas and Rich Bradley registered assists on the play.

Regulation ended with a 2-2 tie. In the 118th minute Ludwig took a feed from El-Bialy after a scramble in front of the goal and sent a ball smoking past Stoklosa on a perfect angle to win the game for Rutgers, sending the Red Storm home in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Now Masur and the Red Storm must prepare as if they are in the NCAAs. “Well I don’t know how they [NCAA] feel about us that’s for sure,” Masur said. They weigh so many things…so I have no idea. We have to prepare like we’re in and that’s what we’ll do.”