St. John’s soccer falls to Butler in regular season finale

St. John's soccer (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's soccer (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s soccer falls to Butler in overtime to close out the regular season. 

While the St. John’s soccer Team clinched a spot in the Big East Tournament prior to Wednesday night’s contest with Butler at Belson Stadium, a huge opportunity was missed by the Johnnies.

A St. John’s win, combined with a Providence draw or loss, would have put the Red Storm as the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament, giving them a quarterfinal bye.

Instead, a 94th-minute goal in the first half of extra time by Butler’s Hemi Nasser thwarted that possibility.

It was a game that was back and forth from the very beginning.

Both St. John’s and Butler had plenty of chances throughout the game and it was truly an end-to-end game.

Butler had the first big chance of the game in the 20th minute as Luka Gavran made an excellent diving save to his left to stop the snapshot volley from going into the net.

In the 31st minute, St. John’s received a huge boost to the team as star striker and former Big East Offensive Player of the Year Tani Oluwaseyi returned to action after it was originally thought he would be out for the season due to knee surgery last summer.

The procedure was to stabilize the patella in his left knee.

The senior forward played 37 minutes off of the bench in his return.

While Oluwaseyi has not seen game action in over seven months, his presence can potentially be huge for the Red Storm, who could use a scoring boost upfront.

ALSO READ: St. John’s clinches postseason berth in win over DePaul

The Ontario native’s return comes just as the postseason is set to get underway and if he catches fire, Oluwaseyi can potentially be the spark to send this team on a deep run in the Big East Tournament and potentially into the NCAA Tournament.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Bulldogs came out strong and looked like they might just take the lead on several occasions.

In the 53rd minute, Butler generated the best chance either side had in the game with a shot to the top left-hand corner but Gavran once again made an amazing save to keep the Bulldogs off the board.

In the 67th minute, St. John’s had a good look on goal as Lucas Bartlett connected with a header off of a corner kick, but Butler’s Gabriel Gjergji made the save.

St. John’s has seen several of those kinds of goals this season, particularly from Bartlett, but Wednesday night was the outlier.

In the 77th minute, Einar Lye had the biggest chance of the game for the Red Storm with a header at the back post, but it was just too high.

In the early goings of overtime, the Bulldogs were on the front foot and pressing for the winning goal.

Just before the ball found the back of the net, Gavran made another great save.

However, the Red Storm could not clear the lines and Nasser picked up the ball at the top of the box and fired a left-foot shot that Gavran just could not catch up to.

The redshirt junior goalkeeper, as always, was fantastic for the Red Storm and if not for his efforts the Johnnies probably would have lost by two or three goals.

St. John’s soccer looking to start fresh in postseason

This match lacked execution in the final third for St. John’s while the shots were at an even 14 with seven on goal for Butler and six for St. John’s.

The Johnnies were not able to execute the final pass well and it ultimately cost them.

Butler was the more threatening team all evening and the Bulldogs certainly looked likely to score when they got on the attack.

ALSO READ: St. John’s through to semifinals in OT win over Providence

Creighton did its job against Providence taking down the Friars, 2-1, in Omaha to help the Red Storm move up to the No. 2 seed in the Big East, but the Johnnies could not get the job done in a disappointing defeat at home.

The St. John’s soccer program finishes the regular season with a 10-5-2 (5-3-2, Big East) record and finish third in the conference.

The Johnnies will have to make some adjustments to avoid the same result as the Red Storm will take on Butler, again, at Belson Stadium in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday at 5:00pm EST on FloSports.

The winner will take on No. 2 seed Providence in the semifinals in Washington D.C. on November 11.

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