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St. John’s men’s soccer ready for a postseason run, starting Saturday

The Johnnies have three games in the way of hoisting a Big East championship trophy.

Wendell Cruz

Heading into Saturday’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal showdown against Creighton 96:00 PM at Belson Stadium in Queens), St. John’s men’s soccer is unbeaten in their last four games—including a 1-0 win against then-#10 Georgetown on Senior Night.

In those four games, the Red Storm have only conceded a goal once.

Andrew Withers and the defense have been rocks at the back all season long. Withers leads the conference in goals against average at .62, and is ranked fourth in the conference with 65 saves. He is ranked top-15 nationally in save percentage, shutouts, and goals against average.

Withers’ six-save performance Wednesday at Providence to preserve a 0-0 draw garnered him a spot on the final Big East Honor Roll.

That double-overtime draw in Friartown locked up the third seed in the conference, with the Red Storm finishing with a regular season record of 8-6-3 (5-2-2 in conference).

St. John’s doesn’t have a potent offense, but don’t mistake that for a lack of talent. Freshman striker Jack Shearer has burst onto the scene, tallying three goals and three assists in his first campaign. Shearer’s energy has mixed well with Harry Cooksley’s talent and experience. Cooksley has three goals and five assists.

In addition to those two, when healthy, Filipo Ricupati has also been extremely effective. In 14 appearances off the bench, the Italian scored four goals, including the two that gave the team a vital three points last week against Villanova.

The Big East Tournament looms

Despite St. John’s being a higher-seed and home-field advantage, the Creighton Blue Jays are a dangerous six-seed. They feature the conference’s leading goal scorer in Ricky Lopez-Espin, who has 11 goals on the season.

Lopez-Espin and Creighton’s Connor Ramlo poked in the goals for the ‘Jays when the two teams played to weather-shortened 2-2 draw back in October. Harry Cooksley had both goals for St. John’s in that game, one coming via the penalty spot.

Swedish midfielder Joey Rydstrand also will prove to be a Creighton threat against SJU. Rydstrand leads the team with eight assists. Lucas Stauffer also has chipped in two goals and six assists, despite playing in the back.

Saturday’s game is slated for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff. The Big East Digital Network will broadcast the game online.

The winner of Saturday’s semi-final will head to Washington, D.C. to take on the second-seeded Georgetown Hoyas on November 8.

The other semi-final pits fourth-seeded Xavier against fifth-seeded Providence. The winner of that game will take on top-seeded Butler.

An interesting note is that the only team in the tournament that beat St. John’s during regular-season conference play was Butler.