By Anthony Parelli
The St. John’s University men’s soccer team finished its four-game home stand perfectly, winning all games, thanks to the strength of Sean Sepe’s second consecutive game-winning goal.
The sophomore’s 24th minute score was all the No. 12-ranked Red Storm needed to get past West Virginia Sunday night at Belson Stadium. Sepe corralled a Jimmy Mulligan pass, weaved his way around three defenders near the top of the box and tapped the ball past the keeper.
“I saw the open spot and put it in,” Sepe said of the score. “I was mad at myself I didn’t score on my first try, so I thought, ‘I’m definitely getting one this game.’”
The game was just Sepe’s second start of the season. The first came in a loss at Virginia. He is making the most of his playing time. The previous game he netted the game winner as a second half sub to give St. John’s a 1-0 victory over South Carolina.
“[Starting is] a little different,” Sepe said. “Everybody’s fresh and you have to get behind defenders, but I’d rather start, obviously.”
The one goal has been enough for the Johnnies as, for the third straight game, the defense kept the ball out of the net for a 1-0 victory. St. John’s Coach Dr. Dave Masur thought this performance as an improvement on Friday’s.
“I thought we didn’t defend that well against South Carolina,” he said. “We did for sure today. West Virginia has some very good offensive weapons.”
Red Storm goalie Rafael Diaz notched five saves, including a full-on diving stop in the first half, to earn his third straight shutout. He gave praise to his defense that stymied the West Virginia attack all day.
“This is the best defensive game we’ve played,” Diaz said. “The second half I don’t think they had a clear shot and that’s a team that scores a lot of goals.
Keeping the pressure on the West Virginia (3-2-1) defense all night was former Francis Lewis star Danny Bedoya. The forward led the Red Storm (5-1-0) with four shots on goal and narrowly missed connecting on several occasions.
“He’s got some really exciting change of pace [ability] in the attacking third which we hope will continue down the road,” Masur said.
The game was St. John’s’ last before starting Big East conference play against Creighton Sept. 21. It is one of three straight contests before once again returning to the friendly confines of Belson Stadium. The Johnnies’ lone defeat this season came on the road.
“The last time we went to Virginia we didn’t play well at all, and we got played off the field,” Sepe said. “So it’s personal for everyone on the team when we go away to show we could play on the road and not only at home.”