Can St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur (right) mastermind a plan to upset No. 1 Virginia? (Photo courtesy of St. John’s SID)
QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s University men have their work cut out for themselves.
The 16th-seeded Red Storm must find a way to defeat No. 1 seed University of Virginia in the third round of the NCAA Division I tournament in Charlottesville, Va. Saturday at 7 p.m.
The game at Klockner Stadium will air live nationally on ACC Network Extra and is available on the ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.
Coached by Dr. Dave Masur, St. John’s will look to preserve its unblemished record against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents this year. The Red Storm registered a 1-0 extratime victory at NC State during the opening weekend of the season before topping Syracuse, 2-1, in Sunday’s second round match. The ACC and the Big East were the top two conferences in RPI this season and account for eight of the 16 teams still alive in the tournament.
Sophomores Brandon Knapp and Skage Simonsen found the back of the net for the Johnnies against Syracuse. Knapp, who was selected to the All-Big East third team, and Simonsen, a second team All-Big East honoree, scored for the fourth and third time, respectively, this season. The Red Storm’s sophomore class has accounted for 27 of the team’s 38 goals.
The Johnnies have been one of the nation’s top squads on both ends of the field this season. Entering the third round, the Red Storm’s 2.00 goals per game scoring average ranks 25th while the team’s 0.82 goals-against average is 20th. Jan Hoffelner, the Big East co-goalkeeper of the year, ranks fifth nationally in GAA (0.57) and sixth in save percentage (.829). Tani Oluwaseyi, the conference offensive player of the year, is 25th in goals (11) and 27th in points (27).
Virginia secured a 2-0 second-round victory over Campbell. The Cavaliers boast the nation’s best winning percentage, carrying an 18-1-1 record into the game.
The Cavaliers are strong defensively. Led by redshirt junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler, who has played every minute, the hosts sport the nation’s top GAA at 0.34. Shutler also leads Division I in save percentage, turning aside 87.3 percent of shots on goal. Virginia also has 14 shutouts
Virginia averages just under two goals per game. A native of Edmond, Okla., sophomore Daryl Dike leads the team in goals and assists with seven apiece. Junior forward Nathaniel Crofts scored a goal and assisted on another in the win over Campbell. Spencer Patton, a junior defender from Morrisville, Pa., tallied the team’s other goal against the Camels.
St. John’s and Virginia will meet for the eighth time. The Cavaliers own a 6-1-0 advantage over the Red Storm and have won each of the last three meetings between the teams.
The Red Storm’s lone victory came in 2008, a 1-0 victory that kicked off a season that ended with the Johnnies’ fourth appearance in the College Cup.
St. John’s and Virginia have twice met in the NCAA Tournament as the Cavaliers won both matches. In 2013, the Johnnies fell in the second round, 2-0, 13 years after the Cavaliers edged the Red Storm in the round of 16, 2-1, in 2000.