The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Poised for the postseason

All the hard work the St. John’s women’s soccer team has put in this season will be put to the test Thursday night as they take on Cincinnati at Belson Stadium.

All the preseason sprints and hard efforts in practice will be on display. The only number that matters is the ‘4’ placed next to St. John’s.

“We’re delighted,” defender Vaila Barsley said. “We were a little nervous we weren’t going to make it for a while.”

St. John’s postseason chances looked slim for a while after they lost three in a row and were staring at six games left against Big East opponents, four of which had winning records in the Big East. However, the resilient Red Storm battled back to go 4-1-1 and achieve a first round home game in the Big East Tournament.

“We overcame a lot this year,” defender Nicole Doran said. “Playing home is great, it’s my favorite stadium.”

The Red Storm is set to take on a Cincinnati team that is the No. 5 seed in the National Division. The Bearcats finished the Big East season with 18 points, three more than St. John’s had.

“[Cincinnati] had good results this season,” head coach Ian Stone said. “They have a new coach who has put good work ethic in them. They are difficult to play against.”

Playing a home game against a Big East opponent has proven to be a big advantage for the Red Storm as they had a 3-1-1 home record against Big East foes. On the road, they were 1-3-2, their only win coming against Providence (with only six points in the Big East).

“A home seed in the playoffs is a reward,” Stone said. “Hopefully word gets out to the St. John’s community.”

“Hopefully the Redzone crowd is the way they were at UConn,” Barsley said. “They would definitely be the 12th man.”

St. John’s had been led by a solid core of juniors all season long. The seniors, sophomores and freshmen have pitched in as well, none more than freshman goalkeeper Kristin Russell who will be playing in her biggest game as a member of the Red Storm.

“Nervousness has made her play better,” Stone said. “She’s going to turn into a big game player.”

“She will come out with the same attitude as she has all season long,” Barsley said. “She will bring it. She knows what she is doing.”

St. John’s cannot overlook a solid opponent in Cincinnati, but is aware that after the Bearcats, undefeated and No. 1 team in the nation Notre Dame is looming. Although, Stone and his team aren’t looking past round one.

“I’ll be excited to play Sunday at 1,” Stone said. “But for now we’re focusing on Cincinnati.”

“We have to get past the first game,” Doran said. “One game at a time, we can’t look too far ahead.”

Coach Stone used Monday as an off day for his team but plans on practicing hard the rest of the week to prepare them for Cincinnati. With tough opponents lurking all tournament long, St. John’s has no reason to fear any of the potential teams they would take on.

“We have to have the right mind set and be on the same page,” Doran said. “I think we can do it.”

“Our goal is to win it,” Stone said. “I think we can do it. We are better prepared than in the past two years. This team won’t back down from anyone.”

After a season that was up and down all year, St. John’s has a chance to line up 11-on-11 and work towards what they have wanted to achieve all season long on Thursday night.

“Coach is keeping us grounded right now,” Barsley said. “We haven’t won anything yet.”

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