St. John’s soccer opens season with victory over Lehigh

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

St. John’s soccer season started the year off with a win over Lehigh. 

On Thursday night, it was opening night of the 2023 season for the St. John’s soccer team and the Red Storm took a trip to Pennslyvania to take on Lehigh.

The Johnnies would come away with a late 2-1 victory after dominating the first half against, pinning Lehigh into its end of the field for large stretches.

The Red Storm would have eight shots to just two for Lehigh at the intermission.

One of those eight first half shots for the Red Storm would turn into a goal and a lead.

In the 26th minute, St. John’s would brilliantly turn defense into offense clearing the ball out to Alejandro Rabell who carried the ball into the box and set up Max McNulty as he finished off the cross with a near-post header.

The goal was McNulty’s first for the Red Storm after transferring from Division II’s Lander University in the offseason.

However, his night wasn’t done yet. But more on that a little later.

The Red Storm would take its lead into halftime, although it would be short lived.

In the 55th minute, Lehigh would equalize through freshman defender Trey Sheller on a corner kick.

Lehigh would continue to put pressure on the Red Storm through the early portions of the second half and the situation seemed to become dire for St. John’s went Antek Sienkiel would be shown a red card in the 66th minute, forcing the Johnnies to play down a man for the rest of the contest.

However, they would not be denied thanks to the aforementioned McNulty who finished off a nice sequence with junior winger Miguel Diaz with a great shot to the back post in the 75th minute to give the Red Storm a 2-1 lead and the eventual victory along with capping off a fantasic debut.

The graduate transfer said ‘so-far-so-good’ in terms of adjusting to Division I soccer after four impressive seasons at Lander, a powerhouse in Division II.

McNulty’s two goal debut generated history as he became the first Red Storm player to score two goals in a season opener since Medufia Kulego against Fordham in 1996.

Concidentally, 1996 turned out to be a pretty special year for the Red Storm as they went on to win the National Championship a few months later.

Perhaps a sign of good fortune for this year’s squad.

The win was the Red Storm’s first season-opening win on the road since 2019.

Goalkeeper Alec MacLachlan earned his first win with St. John’s after transferring from St. Francis Brooklyn after spending his rookie season there, earning a place on the 2022 All-NEC Rookie Team until a move became necessary when the school shut down its athletic department in the spring.

St. John’s soccer prepares for matchup with a former Big East rival

After taking down Lehigh on Thursday, the Red Storm will travel to Piscataway, New Jersey on Monday to take on former Big East rival, Rutgers.

Rutgers come into the 2023 season as the reigning Big 10 Champions, taking down Indiana in the title game for the school’s first Big 10 Title and its first overall conference crown since taking down St. John’s to win the 1997 Big East title.

The title win also clinched the Scarlet Knights’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.

However, Rutgers did not get their 2023 off to the best start as they lost to Delware on the road by a 3-2 scoreline.

Monday’s contest will mark the first matchup between the two teams since 2012.

The Red Storm are 12-6 all-time against Rutgers and have won six of the last seven contests against them.

St. John’s (1-0) will take on Rutgers (0-1) on Monday at 7 PM. The contest can be viewed on the Big Ten+.