The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Men’s soccer on road to redemption in NCAAs

The memory of losing to Maryland, 1-0, in last year’s College Cup, soccer’s version of the Final Four, has lingered in the heads of the St. John’s men’s soccer team throughout the year.

“We have always had that in the back of our heads,” St. John’s senior Nelson Beccera said. “We (kept thinking we) lost that game and that we have to get back up there. We have to get it right.”

“You can tell by the players, they are really determined to prove to ourselves and the nation that we can win a national championship,” St. John’s junior Sverre
Wegge Gundhus said.

With the NCAA Tournament bracket released Monday night, the Red Storm (9-2-9) can now envision what their path to redemption will be.

Garnering the No. 13 overall seed,
St. John’s earned a first round bye in the 48-team tournament. They will host the winner of Dartmouth and Boston College on Sunday night at 6 p.m.

“Boston College is a perennially top-level team in the ACC,” said Head Coach Dave Masur, who will be making his 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“Two years ago they won both the regular season and Tournament
championship,” he said. “Dartmouth is a great team. They have some great
international players from New Zealand and Zimbabwe, and they played a very tough schedule. Either team will
be a very challenging opponent.”

This year, Boston College defeated North Carolina (No. 5 seed in the Tournament), at North Carolina, 2-1. Later in October, they also beat Wake Forest (No. 3 seed) 1-0. Dartmouth tied with Connecticut early in the season and came close to upsetting Harvard (seeded 10th) and South Florida.

In the program’s history, St. John’s all-time record against Boston College is 12-5-1, with Dartmouth 1-1.

“We have to treat every (team) equal,” Gundhus said. “It’s going to be a tough match whoever we play. It’s going to
be a tough match no matter how you
look at it.”

In last year’s tournament, the No. 13-seeded North Carolina made a run to the College Cup final, where they lost to Maryland, 1-0.

St. John’s will be riding into the NCAA’s with momentum. On a six game winning streak, highlighted by their 0-0 (5-3) shootout win in the Big East Championship against Notre Dame, the Red Storm has
dominated their opponents. In five of the six games, they have shut out their
opponent and/or scored at least
two goals.

“It’s great, our momentum can’t be better after winning a championship,” Becerra said. “Every other game we
are playing better.”

“We really have good momentum and atmosphere in the locker room,”
Gundhus said. “The bus ride home from
West Virginia was fantastic. We want
to build on that victory. We have confidence in our game. We have confidence in our game plan.”

Masur does not see any significant difference in the team from the beginning of the season to now.

“I don’t really know what the
difference is,” Masur said. “We are finding ways to put in goals now. We have keptfocus. It hasn’t been much
that’s changed.”

Returning all but three starters from last year’s team, they believe last year’s experience can be vital to making a
second run to the College Cup, which will be held at Wakemed Soccer Park in
Cary, North Carolina.

“I think we learned a lot about playing more than just 90 minutes,”
Becerra said. “Being concentrated the whole game, defend, communicate,
running, all the little stuff we have to do
to be a winning team.”

One thing is clear, the team will only be satisfied if they make it there again.
“We are just looking forward to
getting back to the final four and this time getting it done,” Beccera said.

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