NEW YORK – Behind a second-half five-goal explosion, the No. 19 St. John’s University men improved to 6-0-0 for the first time in program history with a 5-1 win over Columbia University at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium Monday night.
With their sixth consecutive victory to begin the year, the Johnnies have surpassed the 1995 Big East championship team for the best start in program history. That team went 5-0-0 en route to a 16-5-1 finish, the team’s fourth consecutive conference title.
Brandon Knapp, who had found the back of the net only once in his St. John’s career entering the game, scored the team’s first and fifth goals of the night to bookend the Red Storm’s highest scoring outing in six years. St. John’s last scored five goals in a regular season game against Seton Hall University Nov. 8, 2013.
Niko Petridis and Tiago Teixeira each recorded a goal and an assist. Petridis’ three-point effort marked his second in the span of three games, while Teixeira etched his name on the score sheet for the first time as a Red Storm.
Teixeira was one of two St. John’s sophomores to register his first career goal, as Sanoussi Sangary scored the team’s fourth goal of the match in the 88th minute.
St. John’s out shot Columbia, 21-3, including a 15-1 domination in the second half.
Goalkeeper Luka Gavran recorded the win, improving to 4-0-0 this season. Jan Hoffelner turned in a scoreless first half and made the Red Storm’s lone save.
The Johnnies came out of the locker room in the second half firing, registering the first four shots before Knapp broke through in the 55th minute. Petridis played a ball in from the right side to Knapp on the near post. The sophomore corralled it and sent a shot on goal that was turned aside by the Columbia keeper. The rebound found its way back to Knapp, who buried it to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead.
St. John’s did not rest on its laurels. In the 69th minute, Petridis intercepted a pass near midfield and streaked down the right side past a handful of defenders. The senior sent a right footed try to the far post, bouncing it off the crossbar and into the net for a 2-0 advantage
Petridis started the Red Storm’s third scoring sequence three minutes later, playing another ball in from the right side. This time he found Teixeira in front and extending the Johnnies’ lead to three. Einar Lye, who played the ball to Petridis down the sideline, also was credited with an assist.
Columbia cut into the Red Storm lead in the 83rd minute, as Danny Laranetto scored the Lions’ lone goal of the night.
The Red Storm quickly quelled any chance of a Columbia comeback, punctuating its victory with two late goals. Sangary scored his first collegiate goal off a stellar feed from Teixeira in the 88th minute before Knapp converted on a free kick from just outside the top of the box two minutes later.
The Johnnies will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season, playing host to No. 11 Xavier in the Big East opener for both squads Friday at 7 p.m.