By Brandon Mauk
The St. John’s women’s soccer team sent their seniors off in style in what is likely their last home game.
Like she has done so many times in her storied career, forward Rachel Daly scored the winner in the 83rd minute to lift the No. 25-ranked Red Storm to a 1-0 victory over Xavier on Senior Night last Saturday at Belson Stadium, in the final regular season home game for several St. John’s seniors.
“To finish my career at Belson, in that fashion, it means the world to me.” Daly said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way, not with anyone else. To win, with my dad here, makes it even more extra special.”
It was a matter of when, not if, St. John’s would score. They dominated in shots (16-5), shots on goal (10-4), and corner kicks (4-0), but stellar play by Xavier goalkeeper Rachel Piccus kept the game scoreless.
Then Daly, the program’s all-time leading scorer, came to the rescue as she seemingly always has during her three years in Queens. She scored her 17th goal of the season on a finish in the box on a pass from Jesse Schaefer.
Stellar defense and goaltending made that goal stand up.
“The seniors, we all lead by example,” Daly said. “We’ve got a bunch of great freshmen and sophomores and juniors as well. And I think we just combine all that together, and come together to make this team as special as it can be.”
The victory was the team’s single-season record 11th shutout of the year, and they finished with a perfect 6-0-0 record at home for the season. This was their seventh 1-0 win of 2015.
“A shutout, that’s always nice,” red shirt senior defender Georgia Kearney-Perry said. “We’ve done well with that, we got the shutout record. Absolutely perfect”
Before the game, St. John’s (13-2-1) honored Daly, Kearney-Perry and fellow seniors Shelby Halasz, Emily Cubbage, Diamond Thomas, Alexis Urbanski, Katie DeVault and Alana Mitchem.
“It is bittersweet. It’s hard to swallow, last game on Belson, five years of hard work, and probably the best part of my life. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I’m happy we got the win, and the shutout,” Kearney-Perry said.
This senior class is perhaps the finest in the program’s history. They led the Red Storm to a NCAA Tournament in 2013 and the Big East semifinal in 2014, but that wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to do even more.
With the victory, St. John’s clinched a berth in the Big East tournament beginning Nov. 3.
DePaul tying 1-1 with Georgetown over the weekend has the Red Storm in control of their own destiny. Beating Providence on Oct. 30 would clinch the conference regular season crown. This class has been a game-changer for St. John’s women’s soccer program.
“We compete for Big East championships now,” St. John’s Coach Ian Stone said. “And that certainly wasn’t the case when they first got here.”