Still unbeaten

NEW YORK- It had looked like a sure win for the St. John’s women’s soccer team, but after a late goal by Columbia the Red Storm was forced to settle for a draw Sunday night at Baker Field Athletics Complex.

Columbia tied the score in the 88th minute after second half goaltender Jaime Beran challenged Columbia forward Elizabeth deBerardinis’ long dribble, giving Allison Leonard an empty net to finish into. It was a lone slip in another superbly played game by a Red Storm defensive unit that has already posted four shutouts on the season.
“[Columbia] played with a lot of heart. They played with a lot of passion,” said Red Storm coach Ian Stone.

The 1-1 tie, which came after a win in St. John’s Big East opener against Syracuse on Friday, extends the Red Storm’s unbeaten streak to eight games and precedes the final stretch of the schedule which includes 10 Big East match-ups in a month.
The ‘Storm goal came in the 58th minute off the head of sophomore Kelly McConnell after Columbia goalkeeper Allison Vespa couldn’t control a corner kick into the box by Courtney Lane.

“To be fair, I thought we got to a stage where we won the game,” said ‘Storm coach Ian Stone. “But then obviously we made a mistake towards the end there.

“It’s one of those situations where I think we can learn from this mistake and when we get into this situation in a Big East game, where we are a goal up with a couple of minutes left, we are going to win that game.”

The Red Storm was in full control for the better part of the first half. The ball was moving crisply from Johnny to Johnny and high-quality scoring chances were developing with a definite regularity.

In the 14th minute freshmen midfielder Raelynne Lee took a tough shot but Vespa made the diving block.

But eventually the Lions stepped up by playing its type of game, moving quickly and putting the ball into dangerous areas. Columbia hurried to get the ball back into play on free kicks and throw-ins and kept the Storm on its toes.

After McConnell’s goal, St. John’s seemed to find a third gear.

“It’s a little bit of a test of concentration,” said Stone, about Columbia’s fast-paced style. “The tendency is to kind of slip off a little bit mentally from our point of view.
“If we were to do that they would’ve punished us, but we actually did a decent job, especially as the game wore on, of staying in tune because it was a long, tough game.”

The two overtime periods proved uneventful, as the teams registered only one shot in each ten-minute period.

A last-minute Red Storm corner opportunity was cleared away by Columbia defenders, ensuring the tie.