Becerra bounces back from summer injury

At the conclusion of last season, St. John’s Nelson
Becerra hit the weight room.

For some, it seemed like the gym was his second home. Only a few months later of lifting, however, Becerra began to feel pain.

It was soon revealed he had over-worked his back, suffering a herniated disc.

During the summer, doctors ordered him to stay away from activities that could strain his lower back, which included working out and playing soccer.

While sitting out preseason practices, Becerra did not have as speedy of a recovery as the men’s soccer coaching staff hoped.

At the start of the season, the preseason NSCAA All-American selection was regulated to coming off the bench.

“I wasn’t 100 percent, but coach knew I could help by coming off the bench,” Becerra said.

In between games this season, Becerra says, along with practicing with the team, he has run on the treadmill at least three days a week and has worked on his fitness.

“He worked really hard throughout the season,” head coach Dave Masur said. “He’s really important to our success.”

On Tuesday night at Belson Stadium against
No. 18 Brown, it was obvious the hard work paid off.

The midfielder played a season-high 110 minutes while also knocking in St. John’s only goal during the 60th minute off of a
penalty kick. He also kicked a game-high four
shots on goal.

“He scored a great penalty kick tonight,”
Masur said. “He got everyone involved. He looked a lot more
healthier than any other game this season.”

“I feel the best I have all season,” Becerra said. “It feels great to be out there playing like this again.”

Throughout the game, Becerra shredded Brown’s
defense, penetrating the open seams of the defense while also setting up teammates for scoring opportunities.

“Nelson is great with the ball,” Red Storm midfielder
Pablo Punyed said. “At times, he can be dominant out there with the ball. His creativity is amazing. His fitness is much better now
than earlier in the season.”

Through Wednesday, St. John’s has struggled
offensively, scoring only 13 goals in 14 games. They have been victim to the shut out five times.

During last week’s two-
game road trip, when St. John’s scored a goal apiece each game, Becerra said he
began to feel truly back to form. It wasn’t until Saturday’s game against Louisville that he started and played longer
than 90 minutes.

“I didn’t have to tell coach anything about my playing time,” Becerra said. “I think he could see the progress himself.”

With a 4-2-8 conference record, St. John’s is still battling for an NCAA Tournament bid. The team knows that Becerra’s emergence will be a key factor.

“It is great to have him back like this,” Punyed said. “We have the depth but he really does make a big difference. He makes all of us better with the ball.”