St. John’s soccer outlasts Samford, advances to NCAA Sweet 16

St. John's soccer (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
St. John's soccer (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

St. John’s soccer beats Samford in a penalty shootout in thriller 

The St. John’s soccer team has made history in this absolutely magical year.

The Red Storm keep its season going and beat Samford in penalty shootouts after playing out to a 2-2 draw over 110 minutes.

The win advances the Johnnies to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

St. John’s dominated the game in the first half, leading the Bulldogs 9-3 in shots.

The Johnnies nearly took the lead through Zsani Kajan in the ninth minute after Jessica Garziano tried to round the goalkeeper on a breakaway opportunity and when she could not, the junior found Kajan in the center of the box, but the shot was saved off the line by the Bulldog defense.

The Red Storm would grab the lead in the 15th minute through Nicole Gordon.

After winning the ball high upfield, Garziano found Gordon on the right side of the box and she fired a shot to the back post and in for the goal. The shot was Gordon’s third goal of the year.

Gordon nearly doubled the lead five minutes later, but her shot from the left side went just wide.

Samford would equalize in the 28th minute on a beautiful free kick by Alyssa Conarton from about 30 yards out to the top left corner.

It was arguably the best goal you will see in the NCAA Tournament this season.

St. John’s would come out of the halftime break on the front foot once again and would take the lead  in the 51st minute.

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Kajan floated a free-kick into the box and Shannon Aviza connected with a header to put the Red Storm on top.

The goal was the Syracuse transfer’s first of the year and she could not have picked a better time to get on the board.

Just as the Johnnies were closing in on a victory, Katherine Turner conceded a penalty as Alyssa Frazier broke into the box and was about to unleash the shot. Turner’s slide tackle missed the ball and the referee awarded the Bulldogs a spot-kick.

Frazier would step up and slot it home to force overtime.

After the two teams could not find a breakthrough in the two overtime periods, the game headed to a penalty shootout.

St. John’s won the toss and would shoot first and Garziano slotted it home.

Backup goalkeeper Meghan Groah would come in for the penalties and made two saves against Samford while watching another one sail over the bar.

Along with Garziano, Shannon Aviza, and Michelle Money scored in the shootout to win by a 3-0 margin and send the Johnnies into the Sweet 16.

St. John’s soccer will now take on the hometown team

The win moves the Johnnies to 14 wins this season, just one away from tying the program record set back in 2015.

The Red Storm will take on the No. 1 seed Duke, who has hosted this past round and will host all of the Sweet 16 matchups on that side of the bracket.

ALSO READ: St. John’s rallies from double digit deficit to defeat Temple

Duke is 15-3-1 (7-2-1 ACC) on the season and got here by a pair of 1-0 wins over Old Dominion and Memphis.

This is the first time the two teams will play against each other.

St. John’s will take on the Blue Devils on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. EST at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on ESPN+.

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