St. John’s was in its comfort zone. It had come into Notre Dame for the Big East Tournament semifinals as the underdog, and it took the Irish late into a scoreless game.
In the 73rd minute, it all came crashing down.
“There was a little under 20 minutes to go and we felt pretty comfortable where we were,” said head coach Dave Masur. “We had a little slip up in the back and they were able to capitalize.”Despite the outcome, Notre Dame carried play throughout the game, out shooting St. John’s 15-2.
“We were concerned with their ability to cover ground and we had to focus on our ability to control that,” Masur said of Notre Dame’s speed. “We did a great job in limiting that.”
The Red Storm received strong play from keeper Jason Landers, who recorded six saves. St. John’s had its first chance of the game in the 17th minute, when Adam Himeno put wide a shot after a corner kick cross from Michael Luk.
Notre Dame had a couple of good chances in the first half coming off of free kicks, but Landers was there to deny them both times, and at the end of the half the score was knotted at zero.
The final solid scoring chance of the game for the Johnnies came in the 56th minute, when Luk fired a shot that sailed over the goal.
Notre Dame finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Josh Theirmann was able to knock down a Ben Clack clearing attempt and put the ball past Landers.
“They’ve had the last year’s Herman Trophy winner in [Joseph] Lapir and they’ve gotten a wide range of goals from many different guys,” Masur said.
The Irish continued to put pressure on St. John’s, forcing Landers to make two more saves, including one impressive diving stop in the 84th minute.
“I thought we played the game well,” Masur said. “We limited them to a low amount of scoring chances.”
With the loss, St. John’s failed to reach 10 wins on the season, generally regarded as the ‘golden’ number to get into the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA will announce the teams invited to play on Monday. “We’re hopeful it’s not over,” Masur said. “We have to wait until Monday to see if we get into the NCAA [Tournament]. We have to keep preparing and training until then.”