QUEENS, N.Y. – After splitting a West Coast swing to begin the season, the St. John’s University men will play their Belson Stadium home opener, welcoming Fairfield University Friday at 8 p.m.
The contest will be streamed live on ESPN3, available on WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app. Ralph Bednarczyk and Jon Perez will be on the call from Queens.
Prior to the game, the Red Storm will honor alumnus Jimmy Hanna in an on-field ceremony. A 1984 St. John’s graduate, Hanna was the founder and first president of the men’s soccer alumni club. Dr. Dave Masur has invited all alumni and friends of the program to join in recognizing the countless contributions of Hanna, who has been struggling with health issues as of late.
After dropping its season opener to UC Santa Barbara Friday night, the Red Storm responded with one of the program’s best offensive efforts in recent memory Sunday. Against Loyola Marymount, the Johnnies scored twice in the opening nine minutes before adding two more insurance tallies in the second half en route to a 4-1 victory. The effort marked the first time since the final game of the 2013 regular season that the Red Storm found the back of the net four or more times in a game.
Matt Forster recorded his first career brace, netting his first two goals of the season. The junior midfielder scored the eventual game winner in the ninth minute before tacking on the Red Storm’s second insurance tally in the 85th. For his efforts, the Bedford, England, native was rewarded with a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for the first time in his St. John’s tenure.
The youngest team in the Big East, the Red Storm will rely heavily on a talented group of newcomers. Following the Johnnies’ standout performance against the Lions, two Red Storm rookies has accomplished a feat not seen in the program for more than two decades. With a goal and an assist apiece on Sunday against Loyola Marymount, Tani Oluwaseyi and Skage Simonsen became the first freshmen since Wojtek Krakowiak in 1996 to record at least one goal and one assist in their first two games with the program. That season, Krakowiak registered 14 assists and 11 goals, including the game-winner in the national championship against FIU.
Simonsen is one of five freshmen who have started both Red Storm’s games so far, joined by Athit Berg, Brandon Knapp, Sanoussi Sangary and Tiago Teixeira. Another first-year college player, sophomore Johan Aquilon, has also yet to step off the pitch this season.
Fairfield visits Queens following a 1-0 extratime loss in its season opener to New Hampshire, a team that checked in at No. 19 in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll and was still receiving votes in Tuesday’s latest rankings. UNH, who lost to St. John’s, 2-1, in an exhibition match earlier this month, dominated possession throughout the contest. The Wildcats registered 18 shots to the Stags’ one and earned all 10 of the contest’s corner kicks before finally breaking through in the 93rd minute.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion tournament in 2017, Fairfield returns plenty of fire power from last year’s team that made the program’s fifth NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Carl Rees. Leading the way is the dynamic sophomore duo of Don Junior-Bobe and Matt McGlinchey. The pair accounted for eight of the squad’s 23 goals last season, including a team-high six from Junior-Bobe. The Stags were predicted to finish third in the MAAC preseason coaches’ poll behind Rider University and Canisius College, earning three out of a possible 11 first-place votes.