St. John’s soccer falls to No. 6 Clemson in season opener

St. John's soccer (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's soccer (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s soccer loses a heartbreaker on the road against Clemson to open the Fall 2021 Season 

The St. John’s soccer program went into historic Riggs Field on Thursday night with the tough task of trying to get a result against the No. 6 Clemson Tigers.

Clemson has been a perennial soccer powerhouse in the ACC and fresh off of a season in which they were the No.1 overall seed in this spring’s NCAA Tournament.

The Red Storm are trying to recapture its 2019 form where the Johnnies finished with 14 wins and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after a disappointing spring marred by inconsistency, injuries, and COVID-19.

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St. John’s took a shocking lead after just nine minutes of play as senior defender Anthony Herbert connected with fellow senior Einar Lye’s corner kick for a beautiful header that Clemson goalkeeper George Marks had no chance to save.

The Tigers started to grow in the game and had some chances on goal as the first half went on, pinning the Red Storm back. However, St. John’s had a glorious opportunity to increase their lead in the 26th minute through Wesley Leggett as he had a 1-on-1 chance against Marks but could not convert.

The first half finished with Clemson edging St. John’s in shots 8-3.

Clemson’s strength too much for St. John’s soccer in second half

The second half featured a 10 minute period early on where the Red Storm were on the front foot and looked like they would increase its lead, but the Johnnies weren’t able to take advantage of its opportunities.

Clemson pinned St. John’s back for most of the game with attack after attack trying to equalize in the game, forcing the Red Storm to sit in deep to try and hold off the Tigers and get the win.

The dam broke in the 66th minute when Isaiah Reid equalized for Clemson and 11 minutes later Hamady Diop would score the winner for the Tigers.

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Turnovers were a huge problem for the Red Storm as they weren’t able to generate any offensive rhythm to relief the pressure Clemson was putting on the St. John’s defense. The absence of an out-ball for much of the half made it seem like it was only a matter of time until Clemson scored.

The Red Storm had a great chance to walk away with a 2-2 tie late on after Leggett was taken down with a clear opportunity on goal resulting in a red card for Clemson’s Justin Malou in the 85th minute; however, Lucas Bartlett’s free-kick was incredibly saved by Marks.

It was a valiant effort by the Red Storm, but nonetheless, they open up the fall season with a crushing 2-1 defeat to Clemson and will now head home for five straight games starting with a contest against Albany on Monday at 7:00pm EST on ESPN3.

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