Groenwald energizes Johnnies

After team leader and Hermann Award nominee Matt Groenwald was taken out of Saturday night’s Big East quarterfinal game against Notre Dame, St. John’s proverbial glass looked to be half empty.

On top of that, a red card given to midfielder Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph seemed to drain the team that much more.

“You’re facing adversity and when you start to fight back you get confidence,” freshman midfielder Garry Lewis said. “It’s like you’re playing with three extra men.”

After a slow start to the second half, the Red Storm went on the offensive, consistently controlling the ball and out-shooting the Fighting Irish 15-10 and 6-2 with shots on goal.

Groenwald returned to the field and brought added fire to the St. John’s attack after a halftime spent with team trainers working on his knotted hamstring.

“He adds that spark,” said Lewis. “He’s quick, he pressured the ball. He added a bit of energy where we were lacking it in the front half.”

Lewis himself added more than energy, as the freshman midfielder scored the game’s only goal on a header from 5 yards out in the box.

The goal was Lewis’s fourth of the year, which tied him for second on the team with senior Andre Schmid and Alvarado-Ralph.

He’s brave and he’s tough and he finds ways to get into the box,” said St. John’s coach Dave Masur regarding Lewis’s play. “It was a great goal.”

Lewis admitted his first Big East Tournament was a little intimidating at first, but the freshman stepped up when it mattered.