With the wounds of last season’s early Big East tournament loss still open, a questionable ejection threatened to give the Red Storm another quick exit.
Senior midfielder Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph had received a red card during Saturday night’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal match up again Notre Dame.
With 35 seconds left in the first half, Alvarado-Ralph jumped up to challenge Fighting Irish defender Ben Crouse for a ball and struck him in the head with what looked to be incidental contact.
“It sounded like a slap, because all of a sudden you heard like a crash,” said St. John’s head coach Dave Masur.
“So that sound is alarming. But for me, whenever we play Notre Dame it’s always a clean, fair, honest game. For him to get a straight red, it was a little out of character.”
The questionable nature of the play, the referee’s decision, and the apparent disbelief on the part of the team prompted more questions for Masur.
“You don’t see referees go right red,” Masur said. “Maybe in Europe they do where there’s a little more savvy, the cameras are there. In college soccer, that’s not really seen.”
Playing with a man down, St. John’s eventually pulled out the win as freshman Garry Lewis scored the match’s only goal on a header in the 78th minute.
“I was kind of mad at that,” said Lewis of Alvarado-Ralph incurring a red card. “[The referee] could have gave him a yellow card. It changes the game.”
Lewis did admit that playing a man down gave the Red Storm something extra in the second half.
“You have that will,” Lewis said. “You’re kind of mad about your situation. You’re facing adversity and when you start to fight back you get confidence. It’s like you’re playing with three extra men.”
Masur had a lengthy exchange with referee Matt Garrett following the game.
Garrett stated that he had no comment when asked about the game and the red card.
In addition to Alvarado-Ralph missing the rest of the game, he will also be suspended for next weekend’s semifinal match up against UConn, which is to be played in Storrs, Conn.
In the only regular season game between the perennial rivals, the result was a 0-0 tie at Connecticut.
In 17 games this season, Alvarado-Ralph has four goals, tied for second on the team, and four assists, which is tied for first on the team.