The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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SJU taking one game at a time

Reaching the Big East Tournament has been the seemingly uncomplicated task for the St. John’s women’s soccer team over the past few years.

Four consecutive Big East Tournament appearances are impressive, yet they all finished in heartbreaking quarterfinal losses. Sick of losing in round one, the Johnnies have set a new goal for 2005 season: one game at a time.

“In the past, we put a goal where we wanted to make the Big East,” said senior captain Kaitlin Schmidt. “This year, we’re going to take it game by game. We’re going to set goals for each game as it is, and when we get to the Big East, we’ll focus on that.”

Finishing 10-9-1 in the regular season, the 2004 campaign had its bright spots for the Red Storm, including the program’s best start at 6-0 and wins against Hartford, Central Conneticut, Villanova, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, and a thrilling victory against Providence at the end of the season to reach the tournament.

Despite a 4-6 conference record the Storm locked up the eighth seed in the Big East tournament, and another road playoff game was waiting. Visiting second-ranked Notre Dame, the Johnnies were shut out 7-0 by the eventual NCAA champions and the first round road hex continued.

With nine seniors on this year’s squad, St. John’s head coach Ian Stone knows time is ticking more than ever on the core of the Red Storm.

“I think what’s beginning to happen is the fact that we have nine seniors on the team and they recognize it’s their last chance,” said Stone who begins his 12th season at the helm.

“This is a big opportunity; you don’t often have the experience of so many seniors and the quality of players we have on this team this year. Ideally, with a couple of more people healthy, frustrating losses now may turn into wins.”

Stone’s team features veterans all over the field. The defense will be anchored by tri-captain Andrea Coukoulis at sweeper and seniors Lauren McGrory, Kati Schantz and Jane Vongvorachoti filling out the line.

In the backfield, St. John’s will feature sophomores Susan Bryne, Julianna Cohen, and freshman Jacklyn James.

Senior Holly Ryder, who led the Storm with 14 points and five goals last season, will be looked upon to improve on her stellar 2004 campaign and help anchor the middle of the field for St. John’s.

She will be joined by junior Erin Bohn and senior tri-captain Erin Henderson.

On the frontline, St. John’s will be anchored by senior Natasha Lee, who was selected to the All-Big East Second Team. Joining her will be seniors Schmidt and Laura Burlacu.

The battle for goalkeeper will have senior Tracey Rollings and sophomore Jaime Beran trying to fight off freshmen Rebecca Capinera for time in the net.

Rollings posted a solid 7-3 record and her four years of experience may give her the slight edge.

A challenge the Johnnies will face is new competition as the realigned Big East will feature the additions of Marquette, DePaul, Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville.

“Realistically, the teams coming in are around the same standard,” said Stone. “Yet, they add a different style of play and it makes for a bigger challenge and the conference is getting to be more about mental toughness, desire and physicality.”

The 2005 season is shaping up to be a major challenge for the Red Storm.

With new teams, and nine seniors on the way out, this season may prove to be the best chance the program has to excel in post season play and get over their playoff curse.

“We want to play that first round here,” Lee said. “We want to be together as a team, and we want to look at that aspect from the past to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The 2005 campaign is off and running, and while battling injuries the Storm has posted a 2-3-1 record.

The season has already had its share of heartbreaks (a pair of 1-0 losses to Yale and Marist) and triumphs (winning the Columbia Tournament with wins over Bucknell and Quinnipiac).

With Syracuse in town next week to kick off Big East play, St. John’s will begin to play at difficult home schedule in the Big East’s Division A.

In addition to the Orange, the Johnnies will host Georgetown, Villanova, Providence and UConn.

They will travel on the road to face West Virginia, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Marquette and South Florida.

“Now, every game you play needs to be taken into consideration and realistically, we can get further than we have the past few years,” said Stone. “We need to take care of things in conference play to end up with a higher seed than before. It’s great accomplishment to get to the playoffs, but we’re ready to move on from that now.”

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