St. John's men off to blazing start
Sep 10, 2019 | 3584 views | 0 0 comments | 398 398 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Coming off a pair of road wins to start the season in North Carolina, the 22 St. John’s men’s soccer team showed no signs of letting up in its home opener against Manhattan on Friday night, topping the Jaspers, 3-0, at Belson Stadium.

With the win, the Red Storm improved to 3-0-0 for the first time since 2008, a year in which the Johnnies advanced to their fourth College Cup in program history.

When the Red Storm squares off against Iona at home on Tuesday night, it will look to improve to 4-0-0 for the first time since 2001, another year in which the Red Storm finished as a national semifinalist.

“I thought it was an impressive victory for us,” said coach Dave Masur. “I think Manhattan has a great team. They’re big, they’re physical, they’re organized, they’re technical, and I was just pleased at our ability to stay with the game plan and do the right things.”

All three of the Red Storm’s goals came from sophomores, as Brandon Knapp, Tani Oluwaseyi and Skage Simonsen found the back of the net. Knapp, who notched the game winner, scored his first collegiate goal.

Oluwaseyi has now registered a point in each of the team’s three contests this season, scoring the game winner against NC State and assisting on a goal at Appalachian State.

Simonsen etched his name on the score sheet for the second time in as many outings, as he assisted on Oluwaseyi’s golden goal against the Wolfpack.

Jan Hoffelner and Luka Gavran combined to record their third shutout in as many attempts this season. Hoffelner registered one save in the opening half to improve to 2-0-0 before Gavran tallied two stops over the final 45 minutes of action.

The goalkeeper tandem still has a long way to go before reaching the St. John’s record for consecutive clean sheets, as Jason Landers recorded seven straight shutouts during the Big East Championship season of 2006.

St. John’s outshot Manhattan on the evening by a tally of 19-4. Seven of the Red Storm’s tries were on goal.

The Red Storm wasted no time jumping out on top, as Knapp netted his first career goal in the 14th minute of action.

Ron Alkobi took a perfectly placed cross from Matt Forster and rang a header off the right post to a waiting Knapp, who collected the ball and sent it beyond the reach of Manhattan keeper Marcellin Gohier. The assist marked the first of Alkobi’s collegiate career.

Manhattan earned its fair share of chances in the opening period, as the Jaspers tallied four corners to the Red Storm’s two.

Leading 1-0 at the half, St. John’s extended its lead just over 10 minutes into the second stanza. Oluwaseyi converted on a Manhattan mistake, as a Jasper defender attempted to play a ball back to his goalkeeper from the center of the field.

That Manhattan player did not account for the blazing speed of Oluwaseyi, who quickly tracked down the loose ball and beat the keeper for his second marker of the season.

St. John’s put a final exclamation point on the evening in the 73rd minute, when a failed Manhattan clear off the end line found an uncontested Simonsen near the top of the box.

The 2018 Big East Freshman of the Year promptly buried the ball into the upper 90 and gave the Johnnies the 3-0 lead, with which they would end the game.

Honor for Hansen

After anchoring the Red Storm’s defensive efforts during a 2-0-0 weekend in North Carolina, St. John’s sophomore Luke Hansen was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week.

The honor marks the first of Hansen’s collegiate tenure, as the center back made just his second and third career starts in the Tar Heel State.

Hansen played all but a few seconds in 196 minutes of scoreless action for the Red Storm, as the Johnnies held Appalachian State and NC State off the score sheet in a pair of victories.

The Mountaineers managed just eight shots on Friday night, only two of which were on target. Two days later, the Wolfpack mustered just seven attempts, only sending one on goal after more than 90 minutes of play.

Hansen was one of three Johnnies to log more than 195 minutes on opening weekend, joining fellow center back Matt Chandler and midfielder Brandon Duarte.

The Red Storm, who defeated an ACC foe for the first time since 2010, is off to its first 2-0-0 start since 2008. That team went on to finish that season 19-3-3 and make the program’s fourth appearance in the College Cup.

NC State finished just one spot out of the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25 and earned a preseason victory over No. 6 North Carolina before running into the Johnnies.

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