Although the St. John’s men’s soccer team has not played a single regular season game yet this year, the team finds itself the focus of attention in the collegiate soccer world. Aside from St. John’s boasting alumni currently competing in the World Cup (namely Brent Sancho, who represents surprise-team Trinidad and Tobago), the program also has five alumni currently playing in Major League Soccer, as well as two players competing overseas (including Sancho). St. John’s has also been making headlines recently for a groundbreaking initiative as the first U.S. collegiate soccer team to play on Vietnamese soil. In addition to preparing for success in the upcoming regular season, the Red Storm have also provided community service halfway across the world. The team was greeted in Ho Chi Minh City with an enthusiastic welcoming of over 45 people from Hong Bang University. After laying low for a few days to become comfortable with their new environment, the team flew to Da Lat City for a workout along the Mekong River. “The trip really built confidence,” Red Storm head coach Dave Masur said. “We played tough teams and I think it’ll be beneficial for the young players. It will aid in their inspiration to attack the season head-on.” However, the team was not only in Vietnam to sight-see and play soccer, as the players visited the Daughters of Charity parochial school in Da Lat City to help mentor children ranging in age from 6-12 years old. On the field, the men faired well in their exhibition games, going undefeated and posting a 1-0-2 record. The Red Storm started the trip off strong, thumping Hong Bang University 3-0. In their second outing, St. John’s once again had a three goal performance against the Hoa Phat Club of Hanoi. The game, however, ended in a tie. In their third outing, St. John’s once again ended the contest tied, this time by a score of 2-2 against the Mitsustar Club, also out of Hanoi.”It’s always good to spend extra time together,” Masur said about the overseas visit. “As a group, our players understand what’s expected of them this season.” The men look to continue their ongoing success, having made the NCAA tournament the past 15 consecutive seasons, including a national championship in 1996. In 2005, the men posted a record of 11-6-5 overall (6-2-3 Big East), and were ranked number one in the nation for a short time. However, losing major contributors from last season, specifically MLS draftees Matt Groenwald, Andre Schmid, and Jeff Carroll, may make things difficult.The Storm also lose sophomore transfers Garry Lewis and Tony Beltran.”We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve had players come and go,” Masur said. “The most important thing is for the players who are returning from last year to come in the next season with the mental approach to be successful.” St. John’s will play two exhibition games before opening the season Aug. 25 at Big Ten powerhouse Michigan on the road. St. John’s will host Big East rival Virginia Tech Sept. 1 in their home opener.For the Johnnies tradition of success on and off the field, Masur sums it up in three simple elements:”Hard work, focus, and total commitment.”
Women’s SoccerThe St. John’s women’s soccer team has a lot to look forward to for the upcoming 2006 season. After a disappointing 2005 season, posting a record of 2-7-2 and finishing second to last in Division A of the Big East, the team looks to rebuild this year, bringing in 14 freshman and two international students to the club. The team brings back just nine athletes from last season.The Red Storm’s heavy scouting for this season is impressive for a number-six ranked recruiting class in the Northeast Region.”Thanks to hard work by our staff, I am very happy with the depth of this recruiting class,” head coach Ian Stone said. “Our objective is always to keep some of the best local players at St. John’s, and we have achieved that this year. In addition, we’ve also branched out into areas such as Ohio, Illinois and the Arsenal Academy in England to complete this class.”St. John’s brings highly touted recruit Tatiana Duggan out of Middletown, Connecticut to the team. Duggan was named All-SCC Hammonasset in 2005, was a CGSCA All-State selection in 2005, and was also named the CGSCA Senior Bowl’s MVP in 2005.”Tatiana comes from a good soccer background in Connecticut,” Stone said. “She is very good in the air and is quick and strong. She will add to our squad depth.”The Red Storm also brings in Nicole Doran, a Bucks County Courier Times Defender of the Year winner, and Suburban One All-League selection.”Nicole is a tall, athletic defender. She’s quick, covers well and has the aggressive and athletic tendencies needed in Big East Conference play.”The club will open up their 2006 season on the road Aug. 25 at Farleigh Dickinson, preceded by three exhibition matches. St. John’s will welcome St. Joseph’s (PA) on Sept. 2 at Belson Stadium, and will also compete in the Nike Classic, also held at Belson Stadium. Sacred Heart, Columbia, and Fordham will also compete in the tournament, held on Sept. 8 and 10. St. John’s will begin its run for the Big East crown on Sept. 15, where they will be hosted by Syracuse.