QUEENS, N.Y. – The St. John’s University men will open NCAA Tournament action on Thursday at Belson Stadium when it hosts Princeton at 5 p.m.
The game, which will be the second of the season between the Red Storm and Tigers, will be broadcast on ESPN+ with Drew Casey and Calen Carr on the call.
The winner will advance to play top-seeded Oregon State on Sunday in Corvallis, Ore.
The two sides met less than two months ago on Sept. 28 in Princeton. After 78 minutes of scoreless action, freshman Micaah Garnette broke the deadlock with his first collegiate goal, propelling St. John’s to a 1-0 victory.
St. John’s has earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the 22nd time in program history. All 22 of those appearances have come in the last 30 years under the direction of Dr. David Masur, the fifth winningest active coach in Division I. Included in those 22 berths are 12 appearances in the Round of 16, nine national seeds, four College Cups and the 1996 national championship. Overall, St. John’s is 27-20-1 in NCAA Tournament action dating back to that first appearance in 1992, Masur’s second season at the helm of the program.
The Red Storm finished third in the final Big East regular season standings, trailing only a pair of top 25 opponents in Georgetown, the no. 3 national seed, and Providence. The Red Storm checked in at no. 29 in the latest RPI, one of five BIG EAST squads in the top 30.
On Nov. 8, three members of the Red Storm were recognized by the conference for their outstanding individual efforts throughout the season.
Luka Gavran became the third player in program history to earn BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year honors, joining Jan Hoffelner (2019) and Jason Landers (2005) in that distinguished fraternity. Two field players, Lucas Bartlett and Brandon Knapp, accompanied Gavran on the All-BIG EAST First Team, marking the first time since 2005 that three Johnnies earned places on the league’s top squad. Bartlett and Knapp are the team’s leading scorers with five and four goals, respectively, this season, but all three have been critical in helping the Red Storm mold into one of the nation’s top defensive units. Entering the NCAA Tournament, Gavran leads the nation in both solo shutouts (11) and save percentage (.851). The redshirt junior also ranks third in Division I with a 0.52 goals against average. Gavran’s 11 clean sheets are tied for fourth on the St. John’s single-season record list with Derby Carrillo (2009), Bill Gaudette (2002) and Jon Urbom (1992).
Princeton enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams, riding an eight-game winning streak and ripping through Ivy League play with an unblemished 7-0-0 record.
The Tigers are led by senior midfielder Kevin O’Toole, who paced both the team in both goals (7) and assists (9). The Montclair, N.J., native and Red Bulls Academy product ranked fifth in the Ivy League in scoring and second in assists. Daniel Diaz Bonilla and Walker Gillespie finished the regular season with four goals apiece for the Tigers, who have averaged 1.71 goals per game this fall and were shut out only twice in their final 15 matches.
Senior Jack Roberts has started 13 of his 15 appearances for Princeton between the pipes this season. The Wellesley, Mass., native has compiled a 0.85 goals against average and a .765 save percentage while registering five solo shutouts.