Alistair Johnson had every reason to celebrate — twice — Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of the St. John’s SID)
QUEENS, N.Y. – Paced by Alistair Johnston’s first career multi-goal game, the St. John’s University men recorded their second successive home win and extended its unbeaten streak to three, downing UC Santa Barbara, 2-1, at Belson Stadium Tuesday night.
With four goals through the team’s first six games, Johnston has already matched his scoring total from a 2016 season that saw him earn a spot on the Big East All-freshman team.
Freshman forward Jack Shearer recorded his first collegiate points against the Gauchos, assisting on both of Johnston’s goals. Andrea Previati added an assist, dishing out the primary assist on Johnston’s second tally.
“I thought tonight was an exciting game against a really good and organized team,” St. John’s Dr. Dave Masur said, adding that UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg does a great job.”
After UCSB (0-4-2) recorded the first three shots of the game in the opening five minutes, St. John’s (3-2-1) quickly took control of the momentum. The Johnnies registered a few quality chances before Johnston broke through in the 31st minute. After UCSB sent a ball back toward the goalkeeper, the sophomore from Aurora, Ont., applied tremendous pressure, forcing an errant pass directly to the feet of Shearer. The Aliquippa, Pa., native played it back to Johnston, who buried it home into the wide open net for 1-0 advantage.
“It was nice that we got out early with Jack and Alistair making the big play in the middle,” Masur said. “I thought we stayed fairly organized and pressed them well in the first half, so it was nice to be up 1-0 as a result.”
Less than a minute into the second half, the Red Storm struck again. A throw-in on the left side from Bjarni Rognvaldsson started the sequence and found Shearer inside the box. After playing it down off his chest, Shearer moved it along to Previati, who delivered a pass to a streaking Johnston. Johnston wasted no time finding the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
The Gauchos would pull within one just over seven minutes later off a header from freshman Rodney Michael.
“I thought our back line did a great job,” Masur said. “I thought Jordan Shankle did a terrific job dealing with a lot of their better players coming down that left side and really battled hard alongside Wilhelm Nilsson, David Enstrom and Bjarni Rognvaldsson. All those guys did fantastic jobs for us.”
Reigning Big East goalkeeper of the week Andrew Withers recorded three saves, while Thomas Mickoski, who missed the team’s last three games with an injury, played the final eight minutes.
The Red Storm will kick off Big East play at Seton Hall University at 1 p.m. Saturday.