St. John’s gets a key goal from Abel midfielder

Justin Abel had not started a Big East match or a game at Belson Stadium in his St. John’s career. The Red Storm had scored only one goal in their past three conference contests. The team’s coach, Dave Masur, was clamoring for his offensive players to be more decisive with the ball.

Maybe what St. John’s needed all along was an Abel right leg.

The sophomore took a header off senior Andre Schmid from 20 yards out and punched in the first goal of his team’s 4-0 victory against Louisville Saturday night in the 26th minute of play in front of 1,414 fans at Belson.

The goal was the first scored by a Red Storm player since Sept. 18 after scoreless ties at Connecticut and Providence. It was also the first goal of Abel’s career.

“It’s an amazing feeling scoring (at home),” Abel said, “and being a part of (the atmosphere of Belson).”

The 5-foot-11 Snohomish, Wash., native had played only three games this season and a handful as a reserve his freshman year. Most of those came on the back line.

“I think I only took one shot [all of] last year,” Abel said.

Actually, his total was two shots and he has four shots so far this season. One goal in six career shots? Not a bad percentage at all.

According to Masur, Abel was starring in practice and his play forced the coach to shuffle the lineup – something Masur is well known for doing. Obviously, it worked.

“I thought it was an opportunity to give Justin a chance to get in there,” Masur said, “put him in midfield, see what he can do, get him some time-I thought he had earned that start.”

Being the fist-half offensive catalyst, he sure proved it.