Men’s soccer scores emotional victory at Belson

Dylan Hornik, Staff Writer

It was a poignant night at Belson Stadium for the St. John’s University men’s soccer team.

On the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “New York’s Team,” draped in their red, white, and blue kits, took on the Holy Cross Crusaders. A solemn pre-game ceremony honoring the country kept the importance of the date in the back of everyone’s minds.

The significance was not lost on the Red Storm. Paced by Filippo Ricupati’s first two goals of the season, they beat the Crusaders 2-0 for their third win of the season.

St. John’s dominated statistically from the get-go with a different lineup than their previous game. Andrew Withers started in goal, and Ricupati earning his first start of the season. Withers recorded his first solo shutout of 2016.

It was another starter, freshman midfielder Ludvik Benco, that controlled the game early on. He facilitated the team’s chances on the right side of the pitch, executing smart crosses and using finding open spaces for himself and his teammates.

“I think there was some opportunity there [on the right side],” Dr. Dave Masur, the head coach, said. “I thought Tommy [Mickoski] had a good match, stepped in well and played some really good balls and I think Ludvik was able to hold balls up and get them back across so in the first half we had a lot of joy down the right side.”

Despite early efforts, St. John’s could not find the back of the net in the first half. They tallied 13 shots on target, seven of which were saved by Holy Cross goalie Henry Stutz. The Red Storm used pressure and a high tempo to keep the ball in their offensive half for a large majority of the first 45 minutes.

Harry Cooksley, who came in for Previati in the 23rd minute, kept the chances flowing with his aggressive creation. He put multiple chances on net that were corralled by Stutz but kept the pressure on the Crusaders.

Withers did not have to make a save in the first half thanks to the Red Storm back line. Wilhelm Nilsson, Thomas Mickoski, and Simon Tchoukriel all registered full-game efforts and kept Holy Cross out of the 18-yard box for most of the game.

It was more of the same in the second, until Ricupati broke through in the 66th minute. The Milan, Italy native caught just enough of sophomore forward Mike Prosuk’s header to redirect it into the lower right corner of the net.

The Red Storm defense was similarly solid in the second half. Holy Cross did not register a shot on goal until the 59th minute, and their first shot was the only one that Withers needed to save. St. John’s outshot the Crusaders 25-4.

Ricupati, who was just named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll added one more goal for good measure in the final minute of the game. Cooksley came on an aggressive run off the right and slipped the ball to Ricupati, who coolly tapped it home, completing his brace.

“This is an important day for New York, and I’m happy that there were so many fans in the stands” Ricupati said postgame. “We’re undefeated at Belson right now, and we have to keep working hard and have a great BIG EAST season.”

The Red Storm face Marquette on Sept. 17, their first conference game of the year.