SJU, Rutgers fight to 1-1 tie

By Dylan Butler

St. John's men's soccer coach Dave Masur could copy tapes of the Red Storm's first half against No. 16 Rutgers and sell them as an example of how to play crisp, high intensity college soccer.

Unfortunately for the No. 2 ranked Red Storm, it would only be a 45-minute tape. Despite dominating possession, St. John's had several second half lapses as the Scarlet Knights came back to steal a 1-1 tie at DaSilva Memorial Field Wednesday night.

“We had some opportunities, but we showed the same type of situation where we don't sustain our concentration,” Masur said. “As the game progressed, and in every one of our five games, we become more individualistic than we do become team orientated. We have to learn to share the ball and pass the ball.”

To further point out their dominance, St. John's (4-0-1, 2-0-1 Big East) outshot Rutgers 19-3 – including 10-1 during regulation – but the Red Storm could not score the go-ahead goal. Luck was also not on St. John's side as the Red Storm rang shots off the woodwork six times.

“The only way we're going to win is to play a full 120 minutes,” said St. John's tri-captain Jeff Matteo, who himself hit the post three times. “You can see some unbelievable soccer in spurts. We just didn't do some of the little things to win the game.”

Matteo put the Red Storm ahead in the 14th minute when he took a pass from Angel Rodriguez in close quarters and sent a low shot from the top of the 18-yard box that rang off the near post and deflected past Rutgers junior keeper J.D. Martin.

“That was the result of a great combination play by Angel, John Carrozza, Matt Groenwald and myself,” Matteo said of his third goal of the year. “I ended up with the ball 18 yards out and hit the post again, but this time it went in.”

Matteo easily could have made it 2-0 in the 21st minute when he burst past a Rutgers defender and shot the ball high and wide of the near post from 10 yards out. The senior midfielder also sent a free kick from 40 yards out that caromed off the crossbar and out in the 50th minute.

In the 52nd minute, St. John's was again unlucky as freshman Peter Philipakos' close range shot rang off the near post. He corralled the rebound, but shot the ball just wide of the far post.

Rutgers (3-1-2, 2-0-1) appeared to get frustrated with the Red Storm's dominance as the Scarlet Knights were reduced to 10 men when sophomore Matt Veltri was sent off with a red card in the 60th minute.

But instead of picking up their play at that point, St. John's went away from the game plan. Instead of creating space and finding the open man with crisp passing, the Red Storm began trying to take players on, playing sloppy soccer.

“From that point on we played terrible,” Masur said. “We lost our concentration and they picked up their intensity. We started to have guys go on vacation out there and Rutgers came back and fought and deserved the tie.”

The Scarlet Knights took advantage of the Red Storm's lapses and tied the score on a rare counter attack in the 77th minute as Rutgers senior forward Dennis Ludwig dribbled around Shalrie Joseph and in on keeper Guy Hertz. The senior forward slotted the ball past Hertz from 10 yards out to score his fourth goal of the season to tie the score at 1.

Ludwig almost stole a win in the final 35 seconds of the second 15-minute sudden death overtime session when he blew past Joseph and appeared to be in alone on Hertz. But Joseph, playing in just his second game as a central defender, raced back and knocked the ball away from Ludwig in the box to preserve the draw.

Notes: The game was yet another tight battle in the storied series between Rutgers and St. John's. Dating back to Nov. 19, 1994, the two teams have played 12 games and none have been decided by more than one goal. The overall series is now knotted at 4-4-4. This was the seventh overtime game in the series and the Red Storm's record at DaSilva Field against the Scarlet Knights now stands at 0-1-3.

Next up for St. John's is a home game against Villanova (2-4, 1-2) Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats are coming off a 2-1 loss to Hofstra Wednesday afternoon.

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