Heading into Friday’s home opener, the St. John’s men’s soccer team had lived up to its lofty preseason expectations.
The Red Storm was ranked No. 4 in the NSCAA poll and No. 3 in the Soccer America poll heading into last night, after winning the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic last weekend by tying No. 7 Indiana and beating No. 12 Notre Dame. The Storm were beginning to gain momentum as the force it was last year.
But with 1228 fans in attendance and stormy clouds hovering above Belson Stadium, St. John’s only managed to tie Stony Brook, 1-1, in their first-ever meeting.
“It was a tough game” head coach Dave Masur said. “All of these games are important. It’s disappointing but we have to move on.”
Stony Brook’s Leonardo Fernandez scored the first goal of the game off of a penalty kick in the 17th minute after St. John’s goalkeeper Derby Carrillo was tabbed for a controversial foul.
Carrillo had trouble handling an incoming pass when Fernandez took control of the ball. Carrillo then stumbled and collided with Fernandez.
It was the first goal allowed all season and also the first goal in a regular season matchup allowed at Belson Stadium since Princeton tied, 1-1, last October.
“(The defense) didn’t play as good when we faced Indiana or Notre Dame,” senior defender Joel Gustafsson said. “I’m not happy about today at all.”
The Red Storm did not respond until the second half in the 51st minute, after junior midfielder Adam Himeno set up junior Sverr Wegge Gundhus for a header.
“They made the first goal and got us on our heels,” said Gundhus, who leads the team with two goals. “It was tough to come back.”
From there, St. John’s would control the tempo, holding Stony Brook to only two shots after the first half. St. John’s took 11 shots on goal, all seemingly only inches away from finding the back of the net. “It was a frustrating game,” Himeno said. “We had our chances but we just couldn’t get that second goal in the net.”
While constantly attacking the net in the second overtime, Stony Brook goalkeeper Stefan Manz stayed composed. In the 102nd minute, Manz made a highlight reel save from a kick by St. John’s Nelson Beccera from point-blank range.
With the disappointing tie also comes concern. After the game, Masur decided to held a rare team meeting to refocus the group for Sunday’s 7:00 p.m. matchup at No. 14 Boston University.
“We have to make sure we are ready and focused,” Masur said. “It will be a more physical game and we will have to limit our mistakes.”
“We just have to regroup and remember we are still undefeated,” Gundhus said. “We were very well prepared today and played very well, our shots just couldn’t fall. If we continue to play like today, I think we’ll be fine.”