SJU knot Princeton

St. John’s men’s soccer faced Princeton University Wednesday at Belson Stadium, finishing in a 1-1 draw. The Red Storm (6-4-4) gave up a goal to the Tigers (3-7-2) after a set piece at the 63:17 mark, snapping its five-game shutout streak in almost 500 minutes of play.

“I’m not worried about streaks, I’m worried about getting us into the playoffs,” said senior goalie Jason Landers, who now holds a record of 4-1-3 on the season.

In the first half, the Red Storm was in control of the field, accurately setting up plays, but not executing when closing in on the box. St. John’s had its first chance early on nearing the second minute, when freshman midfielder Alexandre Ivo set up a header to sophomore defenseman Joel Gustafsson, who was unable to finish.

In the 12th minute, senior forward Omar Alfonso attempted his first shot-on-goal to the net, but was denied by Princeton’s freshman keeper Sean Lynch. In the 22nd minute sophomore midfielder Michael Luk launched a header to the back of the net after a cross by sophomore defenseman David Reid.

In the second half, the Tigers kicked it up a notch offensively and pressured the Johnnies for the entire half.

“We didn’t start well in the second,” said head coach Dr. Dave Masur. “We showed some of our weaknesses.”

In the 64th minute, Princeton’s freshman defenseman Josh Walburn made a ground kick through St. John’s screen and past the hands of Landers to the far corner of the net, tying the game 1-1.

“It was one of those things that you expect somebody to get and no one did,” said Landers.

Neither team was able to score for the remainder of the game. However, St. John’s almost scored a number of times while scrambling to secure a win. Princeton’s junior goalie Joe Walter had to make a crucial save for the Tigers when Red Storm’s junior forward Michael Mingione blasted one to the net at the 109:35 mark, but Walter dove to deflect the ball.

The Johnnies finished with a 15-11 advantage over Princeton in shots, and was slightly more active in shot-on-goal attempts, topping the Tigers 7-5. Landers had four saves for the Red Storm while the Tigers had six, with contributions from Lynch (2), Walter (3), and one defensive save from the team.

“Tonight was definitely a step backward, we expected to win, but maybe we got a little too overconfident going into the game,” said Landers. “It really hurts us in our efforts in where we want to be. It’s almost like a loss in our eyes.”

Masur said that only a few improvements were seen with the Johnnies, including passing and handling the ball. He added that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Sophomore forward Ryan Soroka gave some thoughts on the kind of tweaking St. John’s needs to move forward at this point of the season in order to see post-season play.

“As a whole, we need to buckle down and get better defending, but it’s a matter of putting a 90 minute or a 110 minute match together,” said Soroka. “On the offensive end, I think we need to possess the ball a little more instead of knocking and running. That way we get everybody involved and build confidence.”