St. John’s soccer selected to NCAAs, set to face Princeton

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

St. John’s soccer secures at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, set to host Princeton 

On Monday, the St. John’s soccer team was selected to the NCAA Tournament after a 10-5-3 regular season and finishing third in the Big East regular season standings with a 5-3-2 record in conference play.

Just like the women’s team, the Johnnies learned that they will face off with an Ivy League opponent in their First Round game.

The Red Storm will host Princeton at Belson Stadium on Thursday at 5:00pm EST.

St. John’s faced off with the Tigers earlier this season when the Johnnies traveled Sherrered Field in New Jersey on September 28 and came away with a tight 1-0 win.

Micaah Garnette scored in the 79th minute to give the Johnnies a win then.

The previous matchup between the two teams saw the Johnnies on the backfoot for most of the evening especially in the first half with the Tigers outshooting St. John’s 7-3.

Shots were 11-7 in favor of Princeton for the whole game as Luka Gavran made multiple stellar saves in order to keep Princeton off the board as well.

The X-Factor for the Johnnies is the health of Tani Oluwaseyi, who returned in the final week of the regular season and played 72 minutes in the Big East Quarterfinal penalty shootout-loss to Butler.

ALSO READ: St. John’s defeats Brown in overtime, advances in NCAA Tourney

Oluwaseyi was not expected to play this season and now the question is, after a week off to get back into the rhythm of things, how much will he be able to boost an uneven Red Storm attack that has only scored 22 goals this season.

Princeton enters the game with a 12-5 record on the season and went a perfect 7-0 in Ivy League play.

The Tigers have only lost once since its matchup with the Red Storm in late September, which was a 2-0 road loss to Temple on October 6.

Tigers’ leading scorer Kevin O’Toole, with seven goals and nine assists, will get plenty of attention but Daniel Bonilla Diaz and Walker Gillespie are also key playmakers for Princeton.

Diaz has four goals and six assists this season while Gillespie also has four goals.

All three attackers produced shots on Gavran in the matchup earlier this season.

St. John’s soccer, Princeton in familiar territory in NCAA Tournament

This is Princeton’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2018, but the program’s 11th overall bid.

It will be the  22nd time in the last 30 years that St. John’s will head to the tournament.

The Johnnies are back in the tournament after missing out last season.

ALSO READ: St. John’s earns several conference season awards

In 2019, the Red Storm were the No. 16 seed in the bracket after a 14-5-1 season, earning a bye in the First Round.

St. John’s took down Syracuse by a 2-1 score at Belson Stadium in the Second Round, advancing to the Sweet 16 where they lost to eventual runners-up Virginia, 3-0.

The winner of Thursday’s matchup will hit the road to face top seed Oregon State (12-2-3, 7-1-2 PAC-12) next Sunday.

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