By Dylan Butler
His team had just blown a 2-0 lead to lose its first game of the year, 3-2, in double overtime to Ohio State in the second round of the SJU Nike Classic at Adelphi’s Stiles Field Sunday, and Red Storm soccer coach Dave Masur was the definition of calm.
NO. 7 St. John’s had lost its first game, giving up more goals in the final 51 minutes of the game than it had in its last three games combined, but Masur, who was more upset at his team in early season blowouts, didn’t raise his voice once.
“This is a marathon and not a sprint,” he said. “There could be a million negative things to focus on but we can’t let this result derail us. We haven’t lost all year and we can’t let it affect us, we can’t let it knock us down. We have to continue to push forward.”
One of the reasons for Masur’s unusually placid post-game persona may be that the loss doesn’t affect the Big East standings, where St. John’s is mired in a four-way tie for first place. Or maybe the Red Storm was due for one bad loss and for it to come in a non-conference game in October is a lot better than it happening anytime next month.
“We have to put this loss behind us and learn from it,” said St. John’s senior midfielder Jeff Matteo. “We have two Big East games left and that’s what we’re focusing on now.”
Andy Kreinbrink netted the game-winner for Ohio State (10-3-2) in the 108th minute, as he got his head on a ball punched away by Red Storm junior keeper Guy Hertz following a Sammy Tamporello corner kick, scoring inside the near post from five yards out.
“This was a great win for our program,” said Ohio State head coach John Bluem. “We’re trying to get some national exposure and St. John’s is an excellent team that is going to have a successful run in the NCAA tournament. I knew we’d be in for a battle and I’m proud of our guys. They didn’t give up.”
Chris Wingert netted his fourth goal of the year, beating Ohio State keeper Chad Brown on a diving header inside the far post off a Peter Philipakos corner kick in the 6th minute to put St. John’s (9-1-3) ahead 1-0.
Matteo scored his sixth goal of the year in the 24th minute, blasting a free kick from 25 yards out off Brown’s hands and into the net and it appeared the Red Storm were well on its way to its 10th win of the year.
The Buckeyes easily could have felt dejected after falling behind 2-0 in the first half. But after playing into a blustery wind in the opening 45 minutes, Bluem knew his team would have the wind at its backs in the second half.
“We wanted the wind at our backs in the first half, but we lost the coin flip,” Bluem said. “At halftime I told them that it was good they only scored two goals. You can see the difference it made for them in the second half.”
Led by forward Justin Cook, last year’s Big 10 Rookie of the Year, the Buckeyes pushed forward in the second half, catching the Red Storm defense flat-footed on a pair of counter attack goals.
Cook, who scored the Buckeyes lone goal in a 1-0 win at Adelphi Friday, netted his third of the year in the 57th minute as he controlled Peter Withers’ cross and beat Hertz high inside the near post from 15 yards out to cut Ohio State’s deficit to 2-1 in a very physical match that saw the teams whistled for a combined 55 fouls and seven yellow card cautions.
Cook also played a part in Ohio State’s tying tally five minutes later as the 5-foot-11 forward led Tamporello down the wing and the freshman midfielder’s low shot from 12 yards out beat Hertz inside the near post to tie the score at 2.
“He’s clever, crafty and sharp,” Masur said of Cook. “He’s one of the better players I’ve seen this year.”
“We have to be a little more secure defensively,” said Wingert. “We were caught a bit flat. They basically scored on their first dangerous shot they had.”
After hosting a Halloween matinee at 2:30 p.m. against Yale at Hota Field in Franklin Square, L.I., the Red Storm close out its regular season with a pair of Big East games. St. John’s hosts West Virginia Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at DaSilva Memorial Field before wrapping up the regular season at arch-rival Connecticut Tuesday at 4 p.m.
St. John’s 4, Syracuse 0. Philipakos, who was named co-Big East Rookie of the Week along with UConn’s Shavar Thomas, scored two goals to lead the Red Storm to an important conference win in the first round of the SJU Nike Classic at DaSilva Field Friday night. Rodriguez, freshman Matt Groenwald and Philipakos gave St. John’s a 3-0 heading into the break. Philipakos netted his second of the game in the 77th minute on a rebound to cap the scoring for St. John’s (5-0-3 Big East). Syracuse fell to 7-5-1, 4-4-1 in the conference.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.