Head Coach Dr. Dave Masur could not have dreamed of a better start.
In their first Big East tournament game since 2011, the Johnnies scored two in the first seven minutes to run past Creighton at Belson Stadium, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament Saturday night.
Alistair Johnston scored just three minutes after Matt Forster had opened the Johnnies account for the night,
Matt Forster’s fourth minute goal was set up on a platter for him after Harry Cooksley spun away from Creighton’s Ricky Lopez-Espin; Cooksley then set a perfectly weighted ball over the top that froze the ‘Jays defense. Forster ran onto it and cleverly chipped it over Creighton goalkeeper Michael Kluver’s head.
The dream start continued as Cooksley again found himself playing facilitator in the seventh minute. He played a long diagonal ball towards the left corner where Matt Forster met it and crossed to an incoming Johnston to give the Johnnies a 2-0 lead.
After the second goal St. John’s made it clear that they wanted to park the bus and stay compact in their own defensive third. This invited pressure upon them, culminating in the 21st minute when some beautiful interplay saw Luke Haakenson lay a ball off to Ricky Lopez-Espin who struck a shot that beat Red Storm goalkeeper Andrew Withers off a deflection.
St. John’s would fend off a Creighton onslaught for the rest of the first half. The Red Storm, as they have done most this conference season, held up well despite not having much of the ball. Despite having so much possession, Creighton was only able to muster up one shot on goal. Andrew Withers was not forced into a save the entire night.
In the 73rd minute the Red Storm would get the insurance goal that they needed. A Harry Cooksley free kick from the right side lofted over most of the pack in the box, but Alistair Joh
nston did well to fight off his defender and make contact with the outside of his boot to put it over Kluver’s head.
The team moves on to Washington, D.C. where they will visit the Georgetown Hoyas. The teams met on October 28. Senior defender David Enstrom’s goal off a set piece was enough to see the Red Storm upset the then tenth-ranked Hoyas at Belson Stadium. The win sealed postseason play for St. John’s.
The Johnnies and Hoyas face off on the pitch on November 8 at 1:00 p.m.; the match can be seen on the Big East Digital Network. With the win tonight, the team heads to the nation’s capital unbeaten in their last five.
Meanwhile: Xavier pushed past Providence in the other quarterfinal tonight., They will play top-seeded Butler in the other semi-final, also to take place on November 8.