St. John’s soccer starts the fall 2021 season with a commanding win over NJIT.
On a beautiful summer night highlighted by trademark pink sunset over Belson Stadium in Queens, the St. John’s soccer team kicked off its fall 2021 season on Thursday with a commanding 3-0 victory over NJIT.
The game also marked the first time since 2019 that fans were back in the stands in Belson Stadium, bringing a welcomed atmosphere compared to the quiet and gloomy scenes that marked the pitch this past spring season.
As for the game itself, the Red Storm started the match slowly as NJIT controlled most of the possession in the opening 20 minutes.
However, as the first half continued the Johnnies slowly grew into the game and had a handful of chances to get the opening goal.
The breakthrough goal finally arrived in the 26th minute when junior midfielder Jessica Garziano latched onto a hopeful through ball from defender Shannon Aviza, rounded NJIT keeper Molly Saylor, and slotted the ball home.
Garziano led the Red Storm in goals, 7, during the spring season as she gets her fall season started in the right fashion.
Once the first goal was scored, the promising possession that NJIT enjoyed in the first 20 minutes was gone and St. John’s thoroughly controlled the remainder of the game.
The Johnnies would tack on another goal before halftime through star striker Zsani Kajan, who used her extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19 to come back for this season.
Kajan received a pass in the box from midfielder Annie Wysong, in the 35th minute, and chipped the ball past the NJIT keeper to double the Red Storm’s lead.
St. John’s soccer continues to look formidable in its season opener
The second half played out similarly to how the first half ended with St. John’s dominating possession and play.
The Red Storm had several chances to get a third goal through Garziano, nearly whipping a corner kick into the net, also known as an Olimpico, on two separate occasions as she forced some tough saves out of Molly Saylor.
St. John’s received a bit of a scare in the 2nd half as NJIT hit the post with a header from a corner kick, but the Highlanders never seriously threatened Naya Lipkens’ goal other than that one chance.
The third goal for the Johnnies would finally come in the 79th minute once again through Kajan as she re-directed a shot by Garziano that was headed wide onto the post, and then tapped in the back of the net off the rebound.
The graduate student from Budapest, Hungary scored four goals in 11 games in the spring but is already halfway towards matching that total just one game into the fall.
The star forward was once again named the Preseason Big East Offensive Player of the Year this offseason.
After just one game the Red Storm can improve on the final pass but head coach Ian Stone will definitely take that performance from his team in the season opener.
Next, the St. John’s will hit the road to take on Saint Joseph’s on Sunday at 1:00pm EST on ESPN+.