St. John’s, Akron play at wet and wild Belson

The game was supposed to be one of the marquee match-ups in the regular season of college soccer this year.

The No.1-ranked team in the country, Akron, traveled to Jamaica, Queens on Oct. 12 to meet third-ranked St. John’s in non-conference action.

The story coming in was supposed to be the Zips’ high powered offense, ranked first in the country (3.64 goals per game coming in) against the vaunted Red Storm defense (0.34 goals against average).

“I was so stoked coming into it,” said St. John’s freshman Garry Lewis, who scored the first goal of what would turn into a 2-2 tie.

But then the rains came.

New York was washed out with four days worth of storms leading up to last Wednesday’s game. And the question stopped being which marquee team would prevail in the contest and became, would a contest even be played?

“Conditions were so bad,” St. John’s senior Andre Schmid said. “It was kind of amusing.”

Right before the scheduled starting time of 7:30 p.m., standing water was prevalent in small doses on the near sidelines and a babbling brook was forming on the far sidelines near the team’s benches. Winds were whipping at over 31 miles per hour.

After a short conference between the two coaches, referees, and John Diffley, St. John’s senior associate athletic director, the decision was made by St. John’s athletic department officials John Diffley and to wait 30 minutes to see if the rain would let up. That’s when St. John’s facilities workers got busy. They drained and vacuumed the fallen precipitation and swept the remaining standing water in the direction of the sidelines to make the field playable.

An hour and 10 minutes later, the field was ready for play. The two teams started the game at roughly 8:40 p.m. and Lewis got the scoring going right away with his fourth-minute, 25-yard strike assisted by junior Georgios Spanos.

The Zips’ Matthew Tutich tied the score in the 25th minute, marking the first time in over 610 minutes St. John’s sophomore goalkeeper Jason Landers allowed a goal. Ten minutes later, Schmid let loose with a knuckling bullet of a shot near the Red Storm bench from almost 40 yards away that got by an unsuspecting Akron goalkeeper, Evan Bush.

“I told myself before the game, ‘I’m going to try to shoot it from anywhere,'” Schmid said.

In the second half, Akron’s Sinisa Ubiparapovic tied the score 2-2 and that’s where the game stayed deadlocked after the two overtimes. In a game that featured two of the top-five teams in the nation, there was no victor. Unless you count the tireless efforts of the facilities workers, the only upset was the fact the game was played at all.

Said an obviously impressed Lolla: “I didn’t think there were any spots of standing water.”