By Patrick McCormack
St. John’s hopes of claiming the Big East regular season title was delivered a setback just three days after it took a big step forward with a win over national-raked Georgetown.
The Red Storm women’s soccer team fell 1-0 without injured star Rachel Daley to Providence Sunday afternoon at Belson Stadium. The defeat dropped them two-points back of DePaul for first place. St. John’s Coach Ian Stone was disappointed in the way his team played as its seven-game unbeaten streak was snapped on Senior Day.
“Big picture it’s a bad loss for us,” he said. “Our hope was to win the Big East Conference and we just made it difficult for ourselves now. But this is a pretty resilient group,” Stone said.
Providence forward Catherine Zimmerman, the Big East’s leading scorer, tallied the lone goal of the game in the 40th minute. She received a pass from Alyssa Martino, made a move and ripped the ball past Red Storm keeper Dianna Poulin to give Providence (8-6-2, 4-3-0) a 1-0 advantage. St. John’s senior defender Georgia Kearney- Perry battled to contain Zimmerman all game
“She’s a great player. I give her credit,” Kearney-Perry said. “She’s quick. She’s strong. She’s a defender’s nightmare. I think we shut her down pretty well. She got one shot and she put it in the back of the net.”
St. John’s (9-6-1, 5-1-1) generated chances early and outshot Providence 10-3 in the first half. In the third minute, Caitlyn McLaughlin put a corner kick into the box. It was headed by Mikhaila Martinov and stopped by Providence Friars’ keeper Kristyn Shea. Shea also stopped a shot off the rebound by Jesse Shafer.
The Red Storm had another opportunity in the 20th minute when Shea stopped Shea Connors’ shot from the top of the box. Senior Caitlyn McLaughin saw her team play well to start, but was unable to muster the same type of pressure in the second half.
“We came off a big win vs. Georgetown on Thursday, we played our hearts out then, so I think we just ran out of gas,” she said.
The Johnnies’ offense was also missing its leading scorer in Daly, who is day-to-day with an upper body injury. The junior has seven goals this season and Stone knows how important she is.
“Rachel is a phenomenal player and she just brings so much to the team,” she said. “It was a big loss for us, but hopefully we have her back soon.”
The Red Storm has road games against Seton Hall and DePaul remaining. They need three points to ensure a berth in the Big East tournament. Winning both or a tie with Seton Hall and victory over DePaul would ensure St. John’s the top-seed. St. John’s can’t let one loss cause the team to lose sight of what can still be accomplished.
“We need to be focused,” McLaughlin said. “Stay in routine and take this loss a little lightly because we still have some games left.”