QUEENS, N.Y. – With three games remaining in the Big East regular season, the St. John’s University men will kick off a two-game homestand at Belson Stadium, playing host to Villanova University Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Red Storm (6-6-2, 3-2-1) enters the game following a 1-0 away win over DePaul University Saturday as Jack Shearer found the back of the net for the third time this season. Matt Forster assisted on Shearer’s tally, while redshirt junior goalkeeper Andrew Withers stopped all five shots he faced, including three acrobatic saves in the second half.
Entering the five midweek Big East matches, St. John’s ranks third in the conference with 10 points, trailing a pair of nationally ranked squads in No. 10 Georgetown and No. 21 Butler, each of whom have 15 pointS. On the Johnnies’ heels are Xavier (nine points), Creighton (eight points) and Marquette (seven points) followed by a three-way tie for seventh between Providence, Villanova and Seton Hall with six points apiece. The top six teams in the final league standings earn berths to the Big East Championship, with the top two squads earning a bye to the semifinals.
Withers improved his goalkeeping stats that already ranked among the nation’s best. After raising his save percentage to .841 and lowering his goals-against average to 0.69, Withers ranks ninth and 20th, respectively, in those categories among Division I keepers. In addition, his six shutouts, which are the most for a St. John’s keeper since Rafael Diaz tallied nine in 2013, rank 25th nationally.
Villanova enters the game at overall, including a 2-4-0 mark in Big East action.
Despite a dominant 5-1 record at home, the Wildcats have struggled on the road, claiming victory in just two of their eight away matches. Senior Lucas Hodges leads the Wildcats with five goals and three assists in 15 appearances, while Andres Bartosinski and Theo Quartey have each chipped in three goals. Fifth-year senior Will Steiner has played every minute in goal this, compiling a 1.24 GAA.
St. John’s and Villanova have met on the pitch 36 times dating back to 1984 with the Red Storm holding a 22-9-5 advantage. The Wildcats, however, have controlled the series over the past five seasons, going 4-0-1 with the Red Storm, including a 2-1 win last year at Higgins Soccer Complex.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on the Big East Digital Network with Mike Watts on the call from Queens.