QUEENS, N.Y – Playing in front of fans at Belson Stadium for the first time in nearly two years, the St. John’s University men dominated from start to finish against 10-man UAlbany for a 3-0 victory Monday night.
Brandon Knapp led the way, scoring the game-winner and assisting on both of the Red Storm’s insurance goals. The effort marked the second four-point outing of Knapp’s career, as the Abingdon, Md. native tallied twice against Columbia University as a sophomore in 2019.
Graduate transfer Lucas Bartlett scored his first goal as a Johnnie late the in the opening half before Wesley Leggett netted his first of the season early in the second half. Leggett has scored four times in career nine games with the Red Storm.
Atila Ashrafi and Jared Juleau also had assists for the Johnnies (1-1-0), who outshot UAlbany (1-1-0), 17-4.
Goalkeeper Luka Gavran stopped both of the Great Danes’ attempts on net to record the first solo shutout of his St. John’s career. The redshirt junior from Hamilton, Ont., combined for 12 clean sheets with Jan Hoffelner the past two seasons.
With the Belson Stadium gates open to the general public for the first time since November 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Storm won before a crowd of 1,717.
St. John’s broke through in the 25th thanks to a determined effort from Ashrafi. The junior midfielder saw his shot attempt blocked by a defender in front, but persisted on the loose ball and threaded a pass in front to Knapp, who tapped it home and gave the Red Storm a 1-0 lead.
In the final minute of the opening half, Leggett drew a foul down the left side to set up a free kick for Knapp. The captain placed a ball precisely to a waiting Bartlett, who headed it past the keeper for a 2-0 advantage.
With less than five minutes gone in the latter half, UAlbany’s Neophytos Scottis was sent off following his second yellow card of the game. With the Great Danes playing down a man, it took less than two minutes for the Red Storm to build upon its lead.
Juleau carried the ball into the offensive zone and played a pass into Knapp near the penalty spot. Knapp quickly pushed the ball over to the left side for Leggett, who sent a shot to the near post and past the keeper for his first goal of the season.
The Johnnies host Marist College Saturday at 7 p.m.