Ready for the Home Stretch

St. John’s picked up a win and a tie this past weekend as hosts of the Daly Worldwide Communications Classic, gearing up for the end of the regular season and the beginning of the Big East Tournament.

The Red Storm defeated conference rival Connecticut, 1-0, on Friday night and tied Long Island University, 1-1, on Saturday evening.

The Huskies (10-4-0, 5-3 Big East) came into Belson Stadium needing a win over St. John’s (11-1-4, 7-1-1) to have a shot at winning the Big East regular season title.

They would look to their star forward, Damani Ralph to help them over take a Red Storm defense which has allowed the fewest goals this season.

Ralph, who leads the conference with 11 goals, was the only Connecticut player who put himself in position to do anything all night.

But for every one of Ralph’s seven shots on the night, St. John’s goalie Bill Gaudette was right there to make the stop.

Rich Bradley gave St. John’s the lead five minutes into the second half after UConn defender Shavar Thomas was called for a handball inside the box.

“There’s too much going through my mind,” Bradley said about approaching the ball on the penalty shot. There was, ‘Don’t miss. This could be the game.'”

The senior didn’t miss on scoring his fourth goal of the season, beating Connecticut keeper Adam Schuerman who dove to his right while Bradley tucked the ball into the left corner.

After scoring, Bradley continued the tradition of the Belson Bounce by heading for the stands.

“I was going,” Bradley said about how he celebrated. “I was definitely going. There was no doubt I was going right there.”

Ralph tried to answer minutes later, and almost did when his shot was deflected and beat Gaudette, but the ball found the right post instead of the back of the net.

The loss knocks UConn into fourth place in the Big East, while the Red Storm maintain their position atop the conference standings.

“As far as the regular season is concerned,” St. John’s Head Coach Dave Masur said, “it’s a big victory because it’s the Big East, it’s Connecticut, it’s a top five team.”

Only Boston College, who gave the Red Storm their only loss of the season, has a chance at overtaking the Johnnies for the Big East regular season title.

The following evening against Long Island was a complete turnaround from the previous night’s performance.

LIU took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute after the ball was deflected in front of the St. John’s net. The Blackbird’s Wendell Paris got to the ball before Gaudette and knocked it home for the goal.

It was the first time since the opening match of the season against Boston College that the Red Storm had trailed at any point in a game.

The Johnnies would respond in the 64th minute when Chris Corcoran headed home a free kick taken by Simone Salinno.

But that was the only scoring St. John’s could produce despite outshooting Long Island. 23-7.

The Red Storm will travel to Georgetown for their final regular season match of the year on Nov. 2.