Tani Oluwaseyi leads the Red Storm and Big East with eight goals. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s SID)
QUEENS, N.Y – The top two teams in the NCAA Division I RPI will do battle at Belson Stadium on Wednesday night when No. 4 St. John’s University men take on No. 7 Georgetown University.
The fight for first place in the Big East is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on the Big East Digital Network.
The Red Storm rose one spot in the NCAA’s latest release of the RPI Monday following a 2-0 win over Creighton University in Omaha to stay perfect in conference play. Georgetown climbed three places to No. 2 after defeating the University of Maryland and Xavier University last week. Tuesday’s release of the United Soccer Coaches poll saw St. John’s jump three spots to No. 4 and Georgetown improve to No. 7 from 13th place last week.
Wednesday night’s match will be the first between top 10 teams at Belson Stadium since Sept. 26, 2008, when the No. 4 Red Storm took down No. 5 Connecticut, 3-1. St. John’s went on to register its fourth College Cup appearance. The Red Storm was last ranked No. 4 or higher on Sept. 8, 2009.
The Johnnies have won their first five league games for the first time since the 2003 squad did during a season that featured a Big East regular season championship and a national runner-up finish. The only St. John’s team to win six or more games to kick off league play did so in 1992 during Dr. Dave Masur’s second season at the helm. That 1992 squad went 8-0-0 in conference play and was one of three Big East teams since 1990 to go perfect in league action alongside Georgetown in 2015 and Louisville in 2010. The Red Storm has won 12 of its first 13 games for the first time since 1993, when it went 13-0-1 in its first 14 matches during a 21-game unbeaten streak to start the year.
The Red Storm’s 2-0 vicotry of Creighton marked the team’s fifth consecutive clean sheet, the longest such streak by a St. John’s team since the 2011 Big East champions rattled off six straight during September of that season. Jan Hoffelner and Luka Gavran have combined to record nine shutouts in 13 opportunities this season, good enough for the nation’s second highest shutout percentage (.692). The last St. John’s team to register more than nine clean sheets in a season was that 2011 squad, which registered 11 shutouts en route to a 14-7-2 finish and the program’s ninth Big East title.
Tani Oluwaseyi scored his league-leading eighth goal of the season in the Red Storm’s win over Creighton. The sophomore from Mississauga, Ont., beaome the first St. John’s player to record eight or more goals in a season since Nelson Becerra did eight times during the 2008 College Cup campaign. Five of Oluwaseyi’s eight goals have been game-winners, which is tied for the national lead through games played on Sunday.
Much like its Wednesday hosts, Georgetown has proven to be one of the nation’s top defenses, as the Red Storm and Hoyas have allowed five oals apiece in 13 games. Georgetown ranks second nationally over the Red Storm in goals-against average by one one-thousandth of a point, surrendering 0.373 goals per 90 minutes compared to the Red Storm’s 0.374.
Both teams are potent offensively. Through games of Monday, St. John’s ranks 12th nationally in scoring offense with 2.31 goals per game while Georgetown sits 26th with 2.08 goals per contest.
Wednesday’s match will feature five of the league’s top nine point-getters. Georgetown jnior forward Derek Dodson’s 13 points (four goals, five assists) are tied for second in the league while junior midfielder Jacob Montes is tied fourth (12 points on six goals). For St. John’s side, Oluwaseyi (eight goals, three assists) leads the confeence with 19 points while Einar Lye and Niko Petridis are tied for fourth with 12 points on four goals and four assists each.
Similar to the Red Storm, the Hoyas have employed a two-goalkeeper system. Sophomore Giannis Nikopolidis started Georgetown’s last match, shutting out Xavier for his third clean sheet. Freshman Tomas Romero has picked up four clean sheets in six starts, including a two-save shutout in the Hoyas’ win at defending national champion Maryland this past week.
St. John’s and Georgetown will meet for the 36th time. The Red Storm holds a 23-9-3 edge in a series history that dates back to 1985.