Soccer is not a popular sport in this country. While interest is growing, it’s still not close to our four “big sports” – baseball, basketball, football, and Nascar. This is not to say that European culture is better because it embraces the sport. It is not even to say that fans should like soccer more. I’m sure we all had enough of that indoctrination during the World Cup.
We all have our preferences and if soccer is not your thing, that’s fine. But the one thing that does bother me is the all too common phrase: “Soccer is boring.”
That’s usually followed up by something along the lines of: “Especially when they don’t even score.” Well, if that sounds like you, St. John’s men’s soccer made a good case against that argument on Sunday.
After a rollercoaster year, St. John’s went into the Big East Championships unranked and as underdogs. They beat Pittsburgh in the first round, then they beat defending champion Connecticut. Then they beat Providence and finally, they were scheduled to play West Virginia.
West Virginia, the No. 2-ranked team, against then No. 25 St. John’s. The game went scoreless through regulation, both teams coming close to that elusive winning goal.
And then, with only four seconds left in the first overtime, Adam Himeno took a quick pass and put one into the back of the net. It was the golden goal and St. John’s defeated a team ranked 23 spots higher.
If that’s your idea of a boring sporting event, maybe you need to reevaluate whether you’re even a sports fan.
The Big East Tournament is a big event. It can really make the difference between an acceptable year and a great year. That’s just what it did for the Storm. Without the championship, it was a solid, up-and-down season. They would have finished the season unranked. But, after this, they end the Big East season as No. 13 (they were moved up after the win), as champions and with an opportunity to make even more noise in the NCAA Tournament.
Not only is it going to help this year, but it’s also good for the program in the future. Recruits are more likely to go to a team when they see a Big East championship and an NCAA Tournament berth. For the players already on the team, it’s a boost of confidence and an experience they’ll never forget.And, of course, it’s great for the fans.
“It’s hard to describe how it felt after that ball went into the net,” said John Kelly, School Spirit Committee chair. “It’s an incredible situation to be in.”
He said there were a total of approximately 60 to 70 students in attendance, 50 of which arrived on the Red Zone bus and another “bunch of people” that drove their cars behind it.
“All we remember is ‘ball… net’ and then we went crazy,” he said. “We jumped over the barrier, screaming at the edge. Georgios [Spanos] came and jumped into the fans.”
And they spread the excitement around too. “As soon as we got back, we started running around [and] telling people,” Kelly said.
And as for the NCAA Tournament? Well, they charge but Kelly said, “Coach [Dave] Masur put up the money for 400 free tickets that we’re going to be distributing before the game.”
So maybe soccer is not your favorite sport, maybe you think it is boring. But, it is not world-renowned for no reason. Just look to Red Storm soccer and maybe they will be able to change your mind.