Men’s Soccer advances to Big East semifinal

All year long, the second half has been good to the St. John’s men’s soccer team.

Saturday was no different. The Red Storm scored three times in the
second half to sink Rutgers 3-0 and advance to the semifinal round of the Big
East Tournament, increasing their unbeaten streak to 11 games.

In the 64th minute, junior John Tardy made a clean slide tackle and moved the ball to junior defender Kyle Hoffer. Hoffer then put the ball past Rutgers
goalkeeper Alex Morgans.

“He made a great tackle,” Hoffer said. “I saw the space so I just took a touch
and shot it.”

Tardy added a goal of his own in the 73rd minute. Junior forward Sverre Wegge Gundhus took the ball on a pass from Tardy, then gave it right back to him. The give-and-go left Tardy one-on-one with Morgans, and the
transfer from Clemson beat Morgans for his first goal with the Johnnies.

Tardy had not had any points on the season until the three he tallied on Saturday. In fact, he did not even play until the team’s ninth game against Villanova on October 7.

“It feels good (to make an impact),” said Tardy. “I’m glad I got my opportunity.”

“John’s had a couple of bad ankle injuries throughout the year,” Head Coach Dave Masur said. “It’s good to see him get out here and get something going for himself.”

In the 86th minute, a Rutgers handball set St. John’s up with a free kick from just outside the box. Senior midfielder Nelson Becerra blasted a missile to the top-left corner of the goal that Morgans never saw.

“We practice a lot of free kicks and
PK’s [penalty kicks],” Becerra said. “I knew I was going to take it on this side.

Tadeu probably would have taken it on
the other side. Plus, we pick after we see
whether the wall is close or far away.”

On the defensive side of the ball, senior goalkeeper Derby Carrillo needed to make just one save to notch to his ninth shutout of the season. His goals against average dropped to 0.50, best in the Big East.

The second-half explosion was a marked contrast from the first half, when neither team put a shot on net.

Both teams got out to a fast start, with sophomore midfielder Pablo
Punyed launching the Red Storm’s first shot just 17 seconds into the game while Rutgers drew a corner kick in
the second minute.

However, as the half progressed, both teams’ offenses stagnated, with just
eight combined shots.

“I think we struggled in the beginning a little bit, but we stuck with what we came here to do,” senior defender Ben Clack said. “I think we wore them down all over the field.”

The win was the Red Storm’s fourth in a row and fifth in their last six games. It is a marked difference from the stretch before that, when they tied in five of seven games.

After scoring just six goals in their first nine games, they have scored 17 in their last nine.

The Red Storm move on to play Providence on Friday in Morgantown, W. Va. The team squared off with the Friars earlier in the season, tying 0-0 on a rain-soaked field in the midst of its offensive slump.

“We’re going to see it as a new
game,” said Becerra. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a team that we’ve already played. We’re going to go out there and do our best, and I’m sure we’re going to come
out with a win.”