Oct. 6, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa. - A Mike Mingione goal in the 37th minute put St. John's into the lead and the Red Storm held off several strong bids from No. 23 Villanova to equalize the match in the second half en route to a 2-0 win over the Wildcats in a BIG EAST contest played here on a warm afternoon at the Soccer Complex.
The scoring chances were few and far between in the game's first 35 minutes. The two squads combined for just seven shots in that span and none were especially threatening. But the Red Storm (5-4-2 overall, 3-1-1 BIG EAST) took advantage of an innocent looking throw-in deep along the right sideline in the 37th minute to seize the lead. An Omar Alfonso throw-in was knocked away by a Villanova defender, only to be collected by the Red Storm's Ryan Soroka. Soroka got the ball to Mingione, who dribbled inside the box at what appeared to be a bad shooting angle. But he managed to loft the ball over `Cats goalkeeper Jason Friel (Dublin, Pa./Pennridge High School) and tuck it into the top left corner of the net to give St. John's its first score of the day.
The first half ended with the Red Storm holding a 1-0 lead and a 5-4 advantage in shots.
There were many more scoring chances in the second half. Villanova outshot St. John's 11-9 in the session and generated several quality looks at the goal. The best came in the 62nd minute off a free kick off the foot of freshman defender Chris Christian (West Orange, N.J./West Orange H.S.). On a designed set piece, Christian lofted the ball to junior Mile Harrison (Louisville, Ky./Ballard H.S.) who in turn headed a cross to senior back Matt Sleece eight yards in front of the net. Sleece sent a header that appeared ticketed for the top shelf only to see preseason BIG EAST goalkeeper of the year Jason Landers get a hand on the shot. The rebound rolled to Villanova junior Joe Taylor, who sent a low shot that Landers stopped as well.
With Villanova (9-3-0 overall, 4-2-0 BIG EAST) pressing forward in hopes of re-living its late game heroics at Rutgers on Wednesday evening, St. John's effectively finished matters at 81:34 off a pretty play begun on the right side by Tafadzwa Chiduku, who found Michael Dal Pra and he headed the ball to Ben Clack. Clack's header into the right corner of the net made it 2-0 for the Red Storm.
"It is no disgrace to lose to St. John's," stated Villanova head coach Larry Sullivan. "They are a good team and we have great respect for them.
"We're not sticking with the plan as closely as we need to. We have fragments of it but not the whole thing. It is important that we find that. We are a good team with good talent. We are not a great team with great talent so executing the plan is critical for us."
This was the Wildcats' fourth BIG EAST game in eight days and, though Sullivan was not inclined to lean on that as an issue on this unseasonably warm - 87 degrees - afternoon, he is happy that there are six days between the `Cats and their next match, on Friday at No. 12 USF.
"We need a break," he says. "We have a week to work on some things and be ready for the rest of our schedule."