Quick and painful

STORRS, CONN. – Matt Groenwald had a hard time recalling exactly what had happened.

The St. John’s graduate student midfielder said the goal came totally out of nowhere.

The timing of the score – and the person who scored it – were entirely inconspicuous.

Drew Brown’s goal in the 88th minute gave Connecticut a 1-0 win over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament semifinals Friday night at Morrone Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,792.

Brown had only scored once all season.

“To be honest,” Groenwald said. “I don’t really remember how it built up.”

Brown made a long run down the right flank and received a pass from Chukwudi Chijindu. He then motored in the direction of the goal and rolled it far post past an out of position St. John’s goalkeeper, Jason Landers.

“O’Brian (White), Chuk (Chijindu) and (Ryan) Cordeiro should be the guys getting goals,” Connecticut head coach Ray Reid said, “but you can’t count on them all the time. I think they (UConn players) were in a state of shock that Drew Brown would actually come forward and shoot. They’ve been begging him for three and a half years [to shoot].”

Added St. John’s coach Dave Masur: “Different types of people usually step up in tournament time to make a difference for their team. It’s not always the leading goal scorer, it’s somebody else. You need somebody to step up at different times.”

It seemed to be St. John’s (9-5-5, 6-3-3) only misstep though.

The game between the conference foes looked to be more evenly matched than the one they played Sept. 23 that ended in a scoreless tie after two overtimes.

“We might have played a little better than we did the first time here,” Groenwald said.

Connecticut (14-3-1, 8-3-1) controlled most of the second half and St. John’s dominated a good portion of the first.

Both teams took 10 shots in the game, which was played in below-freezing temperatures.

Temperature at game time was 36 degrees, but fell well below freezing as the night wore on.

“Weather like this,” Groenwald said, “it’s easier to run all day long. It’s not hot, you’re not struggling to breathe.”

However, the Brown goal did seem to knock the wind out of St. John’s players.

The Red Storm’s only big opportunity in the second half, a shot by junior Danny Dragoi in the 62nd minute from 5 yards out, was saved nicely by goalkeeper Adam Schuerman.

“This team is tough and that’s the only way you beat them,” Reid said. “Like a vampire, you gotta put a stake in their heart, because if you leave them around they’re going to tie the game right back up.”

St. John’s now has a 11-10-3 record all time against its bitter rivals.

Tempers flared after the final buzzer as Connecticut fans taunted Landers and peppered the Red Storm as the team left the field.

The two teams are not known for their affection for one another but Reid had nothing but kind words for his counterpart after the game.

“If [Masur] is not the best coach in college soccer,” Reid said, “I’m not sure who is.”