Mention the student section at Red Storm athletic events to a St. John’s student, and he’ll roll his eyes and shake his head and think back to the last game he attended when the students sitting next to him orchestrated a symphony of insults at USF goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
Mention the student section to Seton Hall Athletic Director Joseph Quinlan, and he’ll probably talk about how he had to ask the visiting St. John’s crowd to keep their chanting to a minimum.
But ask men’s soccer head coach Dave Masur what he thinks about Red Storm fans, and he’ll give a different answer.
“They provide a fantastic environment for us, and the guys really enjoy it,” Masur said. “I appreciate what they give us and I hope we make them proud to let us represent St. John’s.”
There seems to be no limits to what fans will say to distract a goalkeeper at soccer games, with creative one-liners flying from all directions.
“You’d be surprised how much we can find on the schools’ athletic websites and Facebook pages,” junior Nuwan Peiris said during St. John’s 1-0 win over South Florida on Saturday. Rival players are not exempt from torment either. The Red Storm faithful went after Jorge Mora of South Florida, a Queens native who transferred from NC State after the 2007 season. They called him a traitor.
The student section will pack the west net bleachers at the start of the game to trash-talk the opposition’s goalkeeper, then follow him to the east net once the second half of play starts to continue the torment. Players have been known to respond to the torment, firing up the fans and flaring even more creative taunts.
Maintaining composure is crucial.”You have to learn to block it out,” said St. John’s goalkeeper Neal Kitson, who’s heard his share of heckling from crowds throughout the Big East. “Our coaching staff does a good job of keeping us prepared mentally, because if you can’t keep your head, you may let up a big goal in a big game.”
The Redzone should not be confused with the fans, though they share the same bleachers and don the same red and white in support of the Red Storm.
“The chanting and taunting is done by students,” said Tammy Telford, co-chair of Redzone. “The core members of Redzone don’t use profanity.”
Redzone is a student organization that works with student government to raise support for St. John’s athletics. They are held in high regard on campus.