St. John’s soccer team reaps honors

For St. John’s men’s soccer fans, the season has come and gone – but for three members of the team, their outstanding play in Belson Stadium has earned them distinguished honors and a chance to impress at the Major League Soccer (MLS) combine.

Boston College eliminated St. John’s from the NCAA tournament last month. Despite the devastating finish to the season, some of the squad’s key contributors earned some well-deserved honors.

Senior Joel Gustafsson has been named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Northeast Region third team. This crafty defender is a two-time NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection.

In 2009 alone, Gustafsson played in 21 games – starting in 20 of those – and had one assist. With his help on the defensive end, the Red Strom posted 11 shutouts and allowed just 11 goals in 21 games.

“It’s always nice to get some recognition for your performance on the field,” Gustafsson said.

His team spirit and gutsy attitude have made him a fan favorite with his teammates and the campus community. For him, just playing the game for his university is enough.

“What’s good about it is that St. John’s as a school and us as a team gets some recognition every time any of us are being recognized,” said the Swedish native.

Gustafsson has earned All-Big East honors for the third-straight year. Adding to this lengthy resume, he also was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

The Red Storm can also take pride in the fact that seniors Nelson Becerra and Ben Clack have been invited to the 2010 Adidas MLS Player Combine. A total of 62 college seniors from 44 Division I schools were invited to participate in the combine, which will be held at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, from January 8-12.

After three seasons with St. John’s, Becerra played in 61 games – starting in 39 of them. As a midfielder he tallied 14 goals, including six game-winners and 11 assists in his collegiate career.

In 2008, Becerra was named the Big East Midfielder of the Year and a third team NSCAA All-Region selection.

Clack was no slouch himself. He finished a solid career at St. John’s by earning second team All-Big East honors this past year. In 2008, Clack helped provide a defensive spark, which led to 27 shutouts in the last two seasons.

With the season capped and the school year almost complete, these seniors take solace in the fact that they are leaving a community that made them feel like family.

“To be done with my soccer career at St John’s feels a little bit sad…I am mostly just pleased over the fact that I spent four years in New York at St. John’s with a great group of people surrounding me,” Gustafsson said.


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