Belson Opener Ends in Tie

While the game itself may have been an afterthought, St. John’s (5-1-1) and Wake Forest (3-0-2) put on a showcase between two top-five national powers, settling for a 1-1 tie Saturday night.

Overshadowed by the grand opening of Belson Stadium, the new home for both the men’s and women’s programs, the game had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game.

“If you had to rate the whole experience, if you’re rating on a 10-scale it’s a 10,” said St. John’s Head Coach Dave Masur. “Maybe it’s a nine-and-a-half because we didn’t win.”

Andre Schmid kept the celebration going for the near-sellout crowd by giving St. John’s an early 1-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.

Schmid took three shots at the goal, the first blocked by Deacon keeper William Hesmer, the second blocked by a Wake Forest defender and the third finally booted just inside the left post for the sophomore’s first goal of the season.

“The ball got stuck with the goalie,” Schmid said. “I went to try it again, the guy blocks it again, and finally the third time I got it.”

The Red Storm had multiple chances to extend the lead, but a header by Angel Rodriguez and a shot by Simone Salinno couldn’t find the mark, leaving the door open for Wake Forest to even the score.

Vicente Bastidas did just that in the 50th minute, nailing a shot past SJU defender Chris Wingert from 10 yards out.

“I closed him down and I thought I had his shot blocked,” Wingert said, “but I slid and it went between my legs and once it got by I knew [St. John’s goalie] Billy [Gaudette] wasn’t going to have a chance because I had him screened.”

St. John’s, which outshot Wake Forest 22-6, had several chances in both overtimes to pick-up the win, but Hesmer made saves on chances by Rodriguez, Salinno and Matia Damiani to earn the draw.

“I thought we had some great chances late in the game,” Masur said. “We had two or three or four goal opportunities.”

Wake Forest did its best to try to bully the Red Storm with a physical game plan. The Demon Deacons committed 34 fouls and were given six yellow cards on the night.