Women’s soccer closes out regular season with a draw

In a season of twists and turns that led to a spot in the Big East Tournament, the St. John’s women’s soccer team finished theie regular season with a battle against their rivals to the north.

In their last tune-up before Thursday night’s postseason home opener, St. John’s tied Connecticut 1-1 Sunday afternoon in Storrs, Conn.

The tie will lock the Huskies in as the American Divisions’ No. 3 seed and St. John’s in as the No. 4 seed.

The Red Storm (8-5-5, 4-4-3) got behind in the game, but showed character to fight back and get even – a tactic they’ve made a habit of lately.

“We showed a lot of resiliency and fight,” head coach Ian Stone said. “In overtime, we were the better team.”

Both defenses played flawlessly in the first half to keep the game scoreless, but UConn struck first in the 51st minute.

Possessing the ball deep into St. John’s territory, Cory Bildstein passed the ball to Brittany Tegeler, who fired a shot past Red Storm keeper Kristin Russell.

C.J. Ludemann, who has been right in the middle of everything lately, set up Jen Leaverton for St. John’s game-tying goal in the 68th minute. Ludemann found Leaverton, who controlled the ball and ripped it past Connecticut goalie Stephanie Labbe. The goal was the third of the year for Leaverton and the assist was Ludemann’s third, as well.

Playing at a tough road location in Connecticut, St. John’s got a boost from their traveling Redzone who bused up to Storrs for the game.

“It was fantastic,” Stone said. “You can tell it lifted the girls, getting a big crowd is really appreciated.”

UConn, (6-8-5, 4-3-4) who will have a first round bye as the No. 3 seed in the American Division, out-shot St. John’s 25-10.

Although, St. John’s defense played solid again and Kristin Russell’s fantastic freshman regular season ended on a positive note with nine saves.

“Kristin Russell was unbelievable,” Stone said.

In the two overtime sessions, both teams had opportunities, none of which either team could capitalize on.

Other than Russell, defender Vaila Barsley was the only Red Storm player who played the whole game, logging all 110 minutes.

Tara Mendoza, Nicole Doran, Amanda Pasciolla and Courtney Lane all played triple-digit minutes as well.

In the last three weeks, St. John’s has gone from a Big East Tournament bubble team to a No. 4 seed in the American Division.

“This weekend was some of the best soccer we’ve played all season,” Stone said. “We have to work hard in practice so we can keep improving.”

St. John’s will play its opening round Big East Tournament game Thursday night at Belson Stadium. That will be the last time they will see Belson this year as the rest of their potential Big East Tournament matchups will be on the road.

“We struggled on the road away from Belson,” Stone said. “I think we turned a corner against Providence and UConn.”