St. John’s had won the last 15 games it played against Providence dating back to 1989. But the Friars are not the same abysmal team they have been in previous seasons.
And they proved it by playing the No. 8-ranked Red Storm to a 0-0 tie Sunday afternoon at Providence.
The Friars did not win a single match last year. But this season Providence (3-0-5, 1-0-3) is obviously much improved.
“They give you trouble on the counterattack,” St. John’s coach Dave Masur said.
As was the case with Marquette last weekend, the Friars’ strategy against St. John’s was to backload its players behind the ball and wait for Storm turnovers in the midfield.
Once they gain possession, Providence would then have numbers to counterattack.
Though road ties against UConn and Providence should not equal any kind of panic for St. John’s (4-1-3, 2-0-2), the team’s inability to score – it has three goals in four Big East matches – might have to start becoming a worry.
“I’m always worried about scoring,” Masur said. “Scoring is tough. We need to be more decisive [on offense]. We have to be relentless in our attitude.”
Graduate student Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph has gotten his opportunities (three shots on goal at Providence), but has not connected in a conference game yet.
Andre Schmid, a senior, was the only member of the Red Storm to come close to breaking the scoreless tie.
He rifled in a shot in the 56th minute against the Friars, but it was batted away by Providence goalkeeper Chris Konopka.
The Friars had a chance in the closing seconds of the first overtime, when freshman Tim Ritter got loose for a shot.
Ritter broke away in the final 10 seconds and blasted a shot that forced Landers to come off his line to his left to knock the ball away.
After the deflection, the shot appeared to be headed toward the inside of the goal, but was kicked away by Red Storm defender Georgios Spanos.
St. John’s sophomore goalkeeper Jason Landers managed to shut down the opposition’s attack for the second straight match.
The 6-foot-7 goalie kept Connecticut in check Friday night in Storrs after two overtimes, as well.
Landers, in his first season as starting goalkeeper, has three shutouts in five Big East games.
The only goal he has given up was an own goal off the head of midfielder Sam Matthews in a 2-1 victory against Notre Dame.
“He’s determined to win and keep his spot,” Masur said.
Louisville, one of the five new teams in the Big East this season, comes to Belson Stadium this weekend.
The Cardinals already boast a victory over Connecticut at home.
“Anybody who can beat UConn,” Masur said, “hats off in my book."