QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s University men will kick off its season this weekend with two games in the Tar Heel State, taking on Appalachian State Friday before traveling to Raleigh for a showdown with North Carolina State Sunday.
Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.
Friday’s match with the Mountaineers will be streamed live on AppStateSports.com while Sunday’s tilt with the Wolfpack will be carried on ACC Network Extra, available on the ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.
The Johnnies enter the season coming off back-to-back appearances in the Big East Tournament, finishing sixth in the league last season despite sporting the nation’s second youngest roster. The Red Storm returns plenty of talent, including conference freshman of the year and second team All-Big East selection Skage Simonsen. Simonsen became the first St. John’s player to win the conference’s top rookie award since the national championship season of 1996 and the only freshman in program history to be named to the All-Big East second team. Tani Oluwaseyi also earned selection to the conference All-freshman team a year ago.
St. John’s is the only team in the Big East that welcomes back 100 percent of its scoring. Simonsen and Matt Forster each contributed six goals and four assists, accounting for two-thirds of the team’s total offensive production. Forster, a two-year team captain and the only member of the Red Storm roster to have seen action in each of the last three seasons, is the team’s active career leader in games played, goals and assists. Oluwaseyi found the back of the net four times while Johan Aquilon and Brandon Duarte each etched their name of the score sheet once.
Friday night will mark the first ever meeting between St. John’s and the Mountaineers.
Appalachian State returns a lot of talent from a squad that went 8-6-3 in 2018, welcoming back 18 letter winners and eight of the team’s 11 starters.
The Mountaineers return two of their three top goals scorers, led sophomore forward Camden Holbrook, who registered six goals on 22 shots. Sophomore midfielder Alex Hernandez tied for second on the team with three goals.
In goal, the Mountaineers will look to replace the efforts of last year’s starter, Jake Chasteen, who logged seven shutouts in 17 appearances with a 0.84 goals-against average. Anchored by Chasteen, App State ranked 29th nationally in team GAA last season.
NC State finished one spot out of the United Soccer Coaches preseason Top 25 poll, missing the final spot by eight points. After that poll was released on Aug. 6, the Wolfpack recorded two impressive exhibition wins, downing No. 6 North Carolina in Chapel Hill before topping VCU in Raleigh, where NC State went undefeated (8-0-3) a season ago.
The Wolfpack won its first NCAA Division I Tournament contest since 1994 last fall, defeating Campbell, 4-1, in the first round before falling to eventual national champion Maryland, 2-0.
NC State returns its top three goal scorers from that NCAA Tournament team, led by senior midfielder Gabriel Machado. Machado tallied six goals, three of which were game winners, and three assists.
Junior midfielder David Loera led the team and finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season with seven assists.
This weekend will mark the third consecutive season that St. John’s has opened with two road road. In 2017, a year that saw St. John’s finish third in the Big East, the Johnnies split two contests at Drexel and Loyola Maryland. Last season, the Red Storm fell at UC Santa Barbara before dominating Loyola Marymount, 4-1, two days later.
Since the first year of the program’s existence in 1979, the Johnnies are 21-11-8 in season openers, including a 15-7-6 record under Dr. Dave Masur, who enters 2019 ranked seventh among active Division I head coaches in total victories (408) and 12th in winning percentage (.674).
The Red Storm last began a season in North Carolina in 2003, dropping decisions to Wake Forest and UNC at the Wake Forest Classic in Winston-Salem.