By John Tolis
St. John’s University saw something it hasn’t seen in 24 years, and it wasn’t a welcome sight.
The Red Storm men’s soccer team’s 1-0 loss to Providence last Saturday night at Belson Stadium marked the squad’s first defeat at the hands of the Friars since 1989. Providence broke No. 11/14 ranked St. John’s’ 23-game unbeaten streak against the Rhode Island school and gave the Johnnies their first home loss of the season when Anthony Baumann converted a penalty kick in the 78th minute.
“I thought it was a good game both ways,” St. John’s Coach Dr. Dave Masur said. “Unfortunately things didn’t go our way.”
St. John’s’ defense, which was anchored by center back Tim Parker and senior goalkeeper Rafael Diaz, held down the Friars offense for most of the game. The one slipup came when SJU’s Jordan Rouse got a piece of Baumann in the box, resulting in a Friars penalty kick. Baumann then made St. John’s pay for its mistake.
Despite having 12 shots in the game, the Red Storm couldn’t capitalize. St. John’s’ (5-4-1, 0-2-1) best chance came in the 44th minute, when former Francis Lewis star Danny Bedoya put a shot past Friars goalie Keasel Broome, but Baumann stopped it at the line and batted it away for a corner kick.
The Friars (7-1-2, 2-0-0) kept Diaz busy in the second half, especially Thomas Ballenthin, who floated the ball toward the net. Diaz grabbed the ball, but fell to the ground and the ball appeared to be over the line. Diaz’s body stopped it from across the goal line and referees ruled that it was not a goal.
In the final 12 minutes of the match, St. John’s again had quality chances. It put five shots on net, including one in the 82nd minute when Marco Bourdon almost got the ball past Broome.
The loss contributes to the Red Storm’s slide since entering Big East play. St. John’s is currently 0-2-1 in the conference and will have some work to do to bounce back if the team wants to make a postseason run.
“I think we need to just keep doing things we’ve been doing and be a little sharper upfront,” Masur said. “[The team is] getting balls to key areas, a little more consistent, but I thought we played a little well tonight actually.”
Despite the slow start in the conference play, Diaz still thinks this St. John’s group has a chance at a Big East title.
“We just have to stay positive,” he said. “We have a good group of guys and we’re going to be fine for the next game and we’re just going to refocus to the next team.”
The defense is top-notch for the Red Storm, but Masur still thinks “everything” needs to be better, which means offense and defense. Still, Diaz believes his team will rebound.
“It’s easy to put your head down and it’s harder to keep fighting,” Diaz said. “I think this group has it.”