Lewis’s goal downs Golden Eagles

Garry Lewis could see a clear shot at the goal even before he got the ball in the 65th minute of St. John’s win over Marquette Sunday afternoon.

It didn’t matter to him that Matt Groenwald, the Red Storm’s leading goal scorer, was the one with possession about 18 yards out and about to make a move on his defender.

“I saw Matty running to space and his man that was marking him kind of shut the line off to him,” Lewis said. “I noticed there was a lane that I could move in and he could pass it, so I called ‘Matty, Matty, Matty.'”

The shouts got Groenwald’s attention and Lewis, a freshman, received the ball at about 16 yards out. Lewis rifled a quick shot that was saved by Marquette goalkeeper Andy Kroll, grabbed his own rebound and tapped the ball under Kroll’s arms for the only goal in St. John’s 1-0 victory at Belson Stadium.

“I didn’t actually see him,” said Groenwald, who had three shots in the game. “I just tried to cut it back in his direction.”

The Red Storm had a few opportunities throughout the game to score before Lewis’s second strike of the season, but Marquette was belligerent on defense.

The Golden Eagles, playing their first game against St. John’s (4-1-1, 2-0-0) as part of the revamped Big East, set most of their players behind the ball in an attempt to stifle the tenth-ranked Storm’s offense – a strategy that has become common practice among the team’s opponents.

However, Groenwald, who was routinely double-teamed all game, was impressed with the newly christened Big East soccer team, especially its defensive intensity.

“This was probably one of the hardest working teams we’ve faced all season,” Groenwald, a graduate student and team captain, said.

Marquette was extremely defensive minded, so much so that St. John’s sophomore goalkeeper Jason Landers did not garner a single save, nor did the Golden Eagles register a shot on goal.

The Red Storm controlled possession throughout and basically dominated the game, even though the team only came up with one goal.

Graduate student Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph, who had a hand in every goal for the Storm last weekend in the team’s 4-1 in over Duke, had three shots on goal.

The game was only the fourth in Belson Stadium history that was not played under the lights – a point that St. John’s coach Dave Masur was not too keen on going in.

The coach blamed the scheduling on the addition of five new teams to the Big East.

St. John’s, known for its defensive presence and physical play, will probably face one of its most bruising battles Friday when it travel to Storrs to take on UConn, the team’s biggest soccer rival.

The Huskies are coming off two Big East defeats last weekend and games between the two teams have historically been ferocious encounters.

“It’s a crazy rivalry,” Masur said.

And it will be compounded by the expected crowd of more than 6,000 in Storrs for the game.

Said Groenwald: “Friday is going to be the most intense game anyone on this team has ever been a part of.”