By Patrick McCormack
The St. John’s women’s soccer team was 12 minutes away from winning its first ever NCAA tournament match at Belson Stadium.
But Boston University took control in the second half, with Clare Pleuler netting the winner four minutes into the first overtime to lift the Terriers to a 2-1 victory in the tournament’s opening round last Saturday night.
“I thought it was a game of two halves in that we played very well to begin with,” Red Storm Coach Ian Stone said. “I’ll give Boston University a tremendous amount of credit, because I thought they battled tremendously hard and put a lot of pressure on us in the second half and really dug a little bit deeper than we were able to tonight.”
St. John’s, the regular-season Big East champion, dominated BU in the first portion of the match, generating the first 10 shots of the match. Thanks to their pressure, the Red Storm opened the scoring with a goal from Jesse Schaefer in the 21st minute.
But the second half was a different story. The Terriers came out of the locker room looking to tie the match, and they did in the 78th minute on a goal from Alexandra Cooper. BU, which outshot the Red Storm 12-6 in the second half, was able to play its style of soccer after the break.
“At half time we spoke about getting the game back to the first 20 minutes, where we dominating, playing our style of play,” said St. John’s red-shirt senior Georgia Kearney-Perry. “We tried to get back to that, there were glimpses of that in the second half. Soccer is soccer. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a win today.”
The Terriers created their first chance in overtime off the foot of Cooper in the 92nd minute and then, two minutes later, Pleuler ended it.
Stone saw the loss as a learning experience for his team.
“I though Boston University showed us what it was about to fight and to scrap and to try and find a way,” he said. “I think individually, if our players can learn that lesson, it will make them better as soccer players.”
For Kearney-Perry playing a match in the NCAA Tournament at home, despite the loss, was one she will not forget.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I couldn’t have wished for a better moment playing on Belson. It was amazing, just to be back on the field for one last time. It was nice to take my cleats off on Belson.”
Through SJU lost, hosting an NCAA match at home showed the strides they have made as a program in the past four seasons, including two tournament berths.
“I’m super proud and super humbled about everything we’ve achieved individually, as a program, as a team over my five years here,” Kearney-Perry said “It’s obviously very sad right now, but I’m really proud of everything this program has done.”