St. John’s soccer dominates Albany in home opener

St. John's soccer (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images)
St. John's soccer (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images) /

The St. John’s soccer team gets a commanding, yet chaotic win over Albany in its home opener. 

On a beautiful end-of-summer night at Belson Stadium, packed with students fresh off move-in weekend and fans for the first time since 2019, the St. John’s soccer team looked to get back on track after losing to No. 6 Clemson to start the season last Thursday.

The matchup between the Red Storm and the visiting Great Danes Monday night marked the first time the teams faced off against each other in program history.

The Johnnies, for the most part, dominated the match as the final stats show that they had 17 shots, nine on goal, and Albany had four shots, two on goal.

Once the Red Storm established control and developed some rhythm in the game, St. John’s had several chances to get the opening goal, most notably by Einar Lye.

Lye flashed a shot that was pushed over the bar by Albany goalkeeper Carlos Tovern in the 18th minute.

The opening goal would come in the 24th minute as junior midfielder Atila Ashrafi found some space inside the box and eventually squared a ball across to Brandon Knapp inside the six-yard box and he tapped it home to give the Red Storm a 1-0 lead.

The goal was the senior’s first of the season and fifth of his Red Storm career.

St. John’s would increase its lead just before halftime as Wesley Leggett drew a foul on the far side of the field and the free-kick was whipped in by Knapp and found the head of graduate student defender Lucas Bartlett and into the back of the net.

Bartlett had a fantastic free-kick impressively saved late-on against Clemson, but this time he would find the back of the net for his first Red Storm goal.

The Kansas native is a transfer from Drake where he spent three years there and was a First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference Selection in the Spring 2021 season. He also spent two years at Loyola Chicago before playing at Drake.

St. John’s soccer continued impressive showing

The second half was more of the same with St. John’s dominating play and holding Albany deep in its end of the field.

Things would get worse for the Great Danes as center-back Neophytos Scottis was sent off after a challenge on Wesley Leggett earned him a second yellow card.

The Red Storm would take advantage just two minutes later as Jared Juleau found Knapp who was making a late run into the box who set up the shot for Leggett to squeak past Tovern’s post and in for a 3-0 St. John’s lead.

Knapp was fantastic on the night making some great runs whether he was deployed as a midfielder or forward in the game and was fantastic with his set-piece delivery.

Leggett was also a threat all night as he troubled the Albany defense with his speed and diagonal runs, especially in the second half.

However, the game would become a bit dicey as the match went on. It looked as if Brandon Knapp had his second goal of the game in the 73rd minute on a great free-kick, but it was ruled out for offsides.

As Albany was attempting a quick restart, Juleau would win the ball back and would get fouled.

ALSO READ: St. John’s draws with Columbia in six goal thriller

As he got fouled, a tussle involving him and defender Joan Zalfa ensued and both players were shown a red card.

St. John’s would finish the match with ten player and Albany with nine.

Nonetheless, the Red Storm would secure its first win of the season with a commanding 3-0 effort over Albany and move to a 1-1 record.

St. John’s will continue its home-stand against Marist on Saturday at 7:00pm EST on ESPN3.

Next. St. John’s not in NCAA Tournament in ESPN bracketology. dark