St. John’s soccer crushes UConn to open Big East play

St. John's soccer (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)
St. John's soccer (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images) /

The St. John’s soccer team gets a huge road win over UConn to open Big East play

On Thursday night, the St. John’s soccer team responded to its disappointing loss to a previously 0-7 Yale squad on Sunday with a resounding win over the Connecticut Huskies by a score of 3-0.

The win was only the Red Storm’s second all-time in Storrs but the scoreline does not tell the whole story of the game.

Connecticut dominated St. John’s through most of the first half, leading the Johnnies 7-0 on shots in the first 21 minutes. On several occasions, UConn had St. John’s on the ropes as Naya Lipkens needed to make two big saves to keep the Huskies off the board.

For most of the first half, the Johnnies just could not get out of their own half.

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However, after the 30th minute, the Red Storm made some adjustments via a Post-It note which included Zsani Kajan dropping deeper more often to receive the ball and start the attack and St. John’s looked completely different.

The Johnnies were able to generate plenty of offense in the final 15 minutes of the half, firing off six shots.

St. John’s would get a goal from its offensive burst right before halftime off of a corner-kick as Shannon Aviza’s header was saved off the line, but only as far as Brooke Boyd who tapped in the rebound for her third goal of the season.

Milestone moment for St. John’s soccer star in the victory

The second half started right where the first half left off with St. John’s once again on the front foot and it did not take long for the Johnnies to add to their lead.

“ZsaniMania” struck again as Kajan fired in a shot from the top of the box and past substitute goalkeeper Mary Kate Ward to give the Johnnies a two-goal lead just 60 seconds into the second half.

The goal brings the Budapest native’s tally to ten on the season, becoming the only player in program history to hit double-digits in goals in three different seasons.

The strike also moved the graduate student forward past Cristin Burtis to take sole possession of third place in the all-time Red Storm scoring list.

Kajan also takes sole possession of second place in the current national scoring list, momentarily breaking a five-way tie of nine goals.

The nation’s leader in scoring, Georgia’s Mollie Belisle, matched Kajan as she scored her 11th goal of the season in the Bulldogs’ 2-2 draw with Mississippi State last night to stay in the lead.

St. John’s would finish off the game nine minutes later as Isabelle Aviza received a great cross-field ball from Jessica Garziano and then launched a fantastic high shot at the center of the net and just over the outstretched hand of Ward.

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Despite UConn ultimately having more shots than St. John’s on the night, the Johnnies really locked down the Huskies defensively and any shots that did come in weren’t particularly threatening to Lipkens, especially compared to the saves she made in the first half.

It was a very important win for the Red Storm, who lost two games to the Huskies this past spring and have not done well against them on the road historically.

Last season, despite a really good start to the year, the Red Storm never recovered from a bad start to conference play so was imperative for the Johnnies to continue to build momentum early in Big East play to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointing finish.

The win moves the Red Storm to a 5-2-1 (1-0 Big East) record on the season, an all five wins this season have been clean sheets for St. John’s.

Next up, the St. John’s soccer team will come back home to take on the DePaul Blue Demons on Sunday at 1:00pm EST on FloSports.

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