Sometimes being efficient is all you need to win a soccer match. On Sunday night, St. John’s was on the wrong side of that lesson. Despite leading the visiting Fairfield in both corner kicks and shots by a wide margin, St. John’s fell 2-1 for its first defeat of the young season. “The few chances they got. . . they put away,” sophomore striker Ryan Soroka said.The crowd of 1,009 at Belson Stadium was stunned into silence when the Stags’ Todd Rutledge was able to score his first goal of the season, and first goal of the match, off a header to the far side of the net. Prior to the shot, most of the pressure was on Fairfield defenders, making it a surprise that they were the ones to put up the first goal. The goal was put past Red Storm keeper Neal Kitson, a replacement to senior all-American and co-captain Jason Landers, who is sidelined for the start of this season.
Also missing is sophomore striker Tadeu Terra. Together, they are a big part of St. John’s game missing from the field. The team, however, would not use that as an excuse. “It’s hard when you lose a key person in the middle of your field,” said Soroka. “[But] things like this are going to happen. It’s just how we rebound in the next game. People are going to get injuries and you just have to deal with it. You’ve got to push through it.” Soroka did his best to push through. The leader in goals on last year’s squad, Soroka tallied his second of this season in the 57th minute after fellow sophomore Michael Luk made a nice pass. Soroka broke through a couple of Fairfield defenders and hit a floater right above the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. With the score tied going into the last 15 minutes of the match, Fairfield managed to get its first corner kick. The original volley was not effective, but after it was put back into the penalty area Sam Bailey managed to find a nice angle in the midst of nearly both full squads and hit the far side of the goal to give Fairfield the 2-1 advantage.
The Stags had an opportunity to completely close the door in the 88th minute when Tucker Nathans was free of defenders and coming in to make a shot, but he hit the near side of the net and left a slight chance for the Johnnies. With only seconds to go, St. John’s was not ready to concede. Gustafsson got the ball and shot inches wide, but the Johnnies still managed a corner kick with less then 10 seconds. Soroka hurried over and put one into the box, but it was over everyone and time expired for the Storm’s chances. “It’s like a punch to the gut,” said Soroka. “I don’t think any team wants to lose at home.”
St. John’s 2, Fairleigh Dickinson 0In Friday’s match, St. John’s fans had to wait until the second half, but they got what they came for as Adam Himeno delivered the first goal of the season to put the Johnnies up 1-0. Soon thereafter, Soroka scored his first of what St. John’s fans hope to be many goals of the 2007 season. “A lot of guys contributed tonight,” coach Dave Masur told RedStormSports.com. “A lot of guys played and we found out some answers, but we still have some question marks as we look towards our next game.”