By Dylan Butler
It was a familiar scenario for the St. John’s men’s soccer team when Red Storm hosted a Big East quarterfinal match on Long Island Sunday for a third straight year.
Despite controlling play, St. John’s lost each of the two previous games in overtime, falling to Georgetown in 1999 and Rutgers last year.
Against Boston College at Stiles Field on Adelphi’s Garden City campus, the Red Storm yet again dominated possession, but had nothing to show for it as overtime loomed in the scoreless match.
But with one swift kick of his right foot, Shalrie Joseph made sure history wasn’t repeated, as St. John’s versatile senior defender/forward blasted the ball into the net from 30 yards out lifting the Red Storm to a 1-0 win.
Third-seeded St. John’s (12-2-3) advances to the Big East semifinals Friday to take on No. 2 Notre Dame (12-5), 1-0 winners over Georgetown, at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. Top-seeded UConn meets fourth-seeded Rutgers in Friday’s other semifinal.
“We were just a bit unlucky the last two years,” said St. John’s senior midfielder Jeff Matteo. “Today, we played a full 90 minutes. We played well today.”
Joseph started the game on defense, just as he had for much of the season since starting defender Matia Damiani went down with a leg injury in late September.
But when Damiani, who played the second half of the regular season finale, a 2-1 loss at UConn on Nov. 6, entered the match with 7:08 left in the first half, Joseph was pushed back up front.
“Shalrie is smart, heady and has a great physical presence,” St. John’s head coach Dave Masur said. “That combination allows him to play anywhere.”
Joseph and Damiani both had scoring opportunities in the second half, but Joseph’s shot was 22-yards out was blocked by the Boston College defense and sailed wide and, less than a minute later, Damiani’s one-timer from a low Matteo cross went over the net.
Despite the Red Storm’s dominance, Eagles keeper Danny Caruso went largely untested, making just one save. St. John’s outshot Boston College (10-7) 11-7.
“They had no chances,” Boston College head coach Ed Kelly said. “They just kept the ball better than us and Shalrie hits a great ball and that was it. Our midfield didn’t do its job, we gave the ball away too much.”
After controlling play going into a stiff, tricky wind in the first half, the St. John’s had the wind at its back in the second half and used it to its advantage.
Alberto Duenas’ short cross found Joseph open down the sideline and in stride the senior from Brooklyn blasted the ball from 30 yards out into the upper 90, giving the Red Storm a 1-0 lead with 19:22 left in the second half.
“I just tried to squeeze between two of [their defenders] and I saw the ball go back to Alberto,” Joseph said of his fourth goal of the year. “I just wanted to play it one time and he played me a perfect ball.”
Because of the Big East’s rotating 10-game schedule, St. John’s met Boston College for the first time in the quarterfinals. The Red Storm will also meet Notre Dame for the first time this year Friday with a Big East championship berth on the line.
The winner takes on either Connecticut or Rutgers in Sunday’s Big East championship match at noon.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.