Women’s soccer ties ranked opponent

The St. John’s women’s soccer team ground out a 0-0 double overtime draw against the No. 11 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers at Belson Stadium Thursday afternoon.

“We definitely can take this effort into the rest of our Big East play,” head coach Ian Stone said. “If we can do this against the defending Big East champs and an NCAA Tournament Elite 8 team, then we can do it against anyone.”

The Red Storm defense and freshman goalkeeper Kristin Russell were stellar again, but the Mountaineers had a very close no-goal call in the 17th minute. A corner kick by senior All-American forward Deana Everett was headed towards the goal by junior Carolyn Blank and appeared to go in. Several West Virginia players raised their arms in celebration, but the whistle never blew and St. John’s junior Sarah McGrath saved the ball and cleared it out of the zone.

“I’m not sure,” St. John’s junior Tara Mendoza said about whether the ball crossed the line. “You have to play the whistle, the game ended 0-0.”
“It was tough to tell,” Russell said. “I didn’t see it.”

That was the best scoring chance West Virginia had all game long thanks to another shut out for Russell and the play of the stingy Red Storm defense.

“My defense was very good for me,” Russell said. “I’ve allowed one goal this year because of my defense.”

The signature Red Storm defense did a great job of holding down a tough West Virginia attack led by All-American’s Amanda Cicchini and Deana Everett.

“Their forwards are some of the best we’ve seen all season,” Mendoza said. “You can’t just go in hard every time, we had to have a lot of patience and communication.”

St. John’s (4-1-4, 0-0-2 Big East) was out shot by the Mountaineers (6-1-3, 1-0-1 Big East) a staggering 19-5, but a lot of West Virginia’s shots were from far away. Only four of their shots were put on goal.

“The shots were a little misleading because they shoot from anywhere,” Stone said. “Kristin [Russell] didn’t have to make too many tough saves.”

The St. John’s offense was stagnant for the whole first half as they only tallied one shot. The one and only shot they recorded in the second half was one of their two legit scoring chances. Sarah McGrath got past the Mountaineer defense and fired on net but sophomore goalkeeper Kerri Butler made a fingertip save. The Red Storm’s second scoring chance came in the second overtime, a ten minute frame that was dominated by them. In the 106th minute, a St. John’s corner was headed towards the net by sophomore Courtney Curby, but it was just wide.

“We are playing different now, we are paying attention to detail,” Stone said. “[Courtney] Curby had a chance there at the end, but couldn’t finish it.”

Aside from Russell, St. John’s had four players that played all 110 minutes. Juniors Nicole Doran and Courtney Lane battled the whole game along with Mendoza and McGrath.

“Fatigue does set in,” Mendoza said. “I played three positions today, center mid [fatigue] kicks in; center back isn’t as much running.”

The Red Storm will look to build on this hard fought tie with an elite team in West Virginia as they get ready for a three game road trip against Pittsburgh, Villanova and Georgetown.

“We were disappointed with tying the No. 11 ranked team,” Stone said. “That shows a lot about us, we are moving forward.