Although the St. John’s women’s soccer team fell behind early, the Red Storm came back with two goals late in the second half to defeat No. 25 Indiana, 2-1, Sunday.
“We showed so much character and heart today,” head coach Ian Stone said. “We really showed our maturity coming back.”
In the 10th minute, Indiana’s Chloe McKay intercepted a pass and struck the ball right at St. John’s goalkeeper Kristin Russell’s hands. Russell appeared to have caught the ball, but then bobbled it, sending it to the back of the net.
“There are no words that can describe (how that happened),” Russell said. “I felt terrible. That never happened to me before.”
The Red Storm controlled the tempo seemingly the entire second half, but did not answer until the 73rd minute when senior midfielder C.J. Ludemann scored off of an assist by senior defender Tara Mendoza.
Similar to Russell’s blunder, Indiana goalkeeper Lindsay Campbell struggled to maintain possession of the ball and watched helplessly as the ball rolled into the net.
“I got their goalkeeper a little payback,” Ludemann joked. “Seriously, though.
Russell is our rock in the net and none of us wanted the game to fall on her.
Everybody stepped up in the second half and really played well.”
Despite starting only one game, Ludemann leads the team in points (7) and is tied for the team lead in goals (2).
“She has been phenomenal for us,” Stone said. “Every time she comes onto the field, she impacts it in a positive way.”
Three minutes later, St. John’s took the lead after midfielder Sarah McGrath found a streaking Kaitlin Haas creeping towards the net. Haas’ kick eluded a diving Campbell.
“Sarah gave me a perfect pass so the least I could have done was put a foot on it,” Haas said. “Thankfully it went in.”
The win, which brings St. John’s to 5-1 on the year, has also built confidence for the team. Last year the team failed to ever come back from a 1-0 deficit. With 15 seniors, the experience may be the difference.
“I think our experience definitely showed today,” Ludemann said. “Last year, going down gave our team a lot of trouble. But this year is different. I think if the game went longer we could have scored three or four more goals.
“Anytime we go down we know in our heads that we can come back. We will never look down on us now.”
INJURY UPDATE: Senior Vaila Barsley missed a fourth consecutive game today after spraining her ankle August 30 against USC. The defender was expected to return this weekend, but the pain persisted and the team wanted to take no chances.
“I’m feeling good, it’s getting better,” said Barsley, who is tied for the team lead in goals (2). “It was more precautionary than anything else. We have so many good players we don’t need to sacrifice anything for one game.”
Barsley had an MRI Saturday and the results are expected Monday.
“We are awaiting the results,” Stone said. “We don’t know what will happen with that yet. It may just be an ankle thing that takes time but I’m really excited that the other girls stepped up and took her place. Now if we get her back it’s just an added bonus.”
Barsley expects to be ready for Friday’s home game against Syracuse.