QUEENS, N.Y. – For the 21st time in program history, the St. John’s University men are heading to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
The Red Storm, which received the No. 16 national seed, will kick off its quest for a fifth College Cup appearance and second national championship Sunday when it hosts either Syracuse University or the University of Rhode Island in the second round at Belson Stadium at 7 p.m.
Syracuse and URI will meet at SU Soccer Stadium Thursday night for the right to take on the Johnnies at Belson. The Red Storm’s potential third-round opponent is top-seeded Virginia, which will meet the winner of Thursday’s game between James Madison University and Campbell University.
The selection marked the ninth time in program history and the first time since 2011 that St. John’s has earned a national seed. That year, the Red Storm secured a No. 9 ranking after claiming its league-record ninth Big East Tournament title.
The Red Storm returns to the NCAA field of 48 for the first time since 2013. That year, the Johnnies defeated the University of Delaware in the opening round of action to secure its 26th victory all-time in NCAA tournament play.
“I think the team is thrilled, really excited,” said Dr. David Masur, who has reached the NCAA tournament 21 times in 29 opportunities as St. John’s head coach. “We were traditionally for numerous years an NCAA team every year, so being able to get back to the NCAAs has a very, very sweet feeling to it, but it’s not about getting back. It’s about winning. We don’t want to just get back, we want to win.”
St. John’s earned its NCAA berth and national seed on the heels of a stellar regular season. The Johnnies enter the tournament with a record of 13-4-1, the team’s highest win total since 2011 and the program’s best regular season victory count since the 2008 College Cup campaign. All four of the Red Storm’s losses this season came to teams that will be hosting an NCAA Tournament game later this week. The Red Storm’s 6-2-1 effort in BIG EAST play was good enough for second place in the final conference standings, trailing only a Georgetown squad that received the no. 3 national seed on Monday.
St. John’s and Georgetown University were two of four Big East teams alongside Butler University and Providence College to earn a spot in the tournament, good enough for the second highest total in league history after realignment. All four Big East squads will host at least one game.
“We’re still a fairly young team, but we’ve had a great year and we’ve got to really roll up our sleeves and be ready to compete really hard and really well and be in our sharpest form on Sunday,” Masur said.
On Sunday evening, Belson Stadium will play host to an NCAA Tournament game on the men’s side for the 16th time since its opening in 2002. The Johnnies are 10-4-1 in 15 match-ups.
Since the program’s first NCAA Tournament in 1992, the Johnnies have advanced in 13 of their 20 appearances, including 13 of their last 16. The Red Storm has won a national title (1996), reached College Cups four times (1996, 2001, 2003, 2008), advanced to two national title games (1996, 2003) and made it to the round of 16 or beyond 11 times.