DURHAM, N.C. – The St. John’s University women reached the Round of 16 of the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time, defeating Samford, 3-0, in penalty kicks on Friday night.
The teams battled to a 2-2 deadlock before extratime and then the shootout.
Having made just one collegiate appearance heading into the match, freshman goalkeeper Meghan Groah was called upon in the decisive penalty shootout. The Winchester, Va. native, who had not seen game action since logging 16 minutes and 49 seconds against Saint Joseph’s on Aug. 21, held Samford off the board, making two saves and forcing another miss. Three of the Red Storm’s four shooters converted on their penalty attempts – Jessica Garziano, Shannon Aviza and Michelle Money.
The Red Storm improved to 13-6-3 on the season and snapped Samford’s 13-game winning streak dating back to Sept. 24.
The Red Storm will return to action on Sunday at 6 p.m., playing the winner of University of Memphis and Duke University at Koskinen Stadium.
“I thought it was a really good team performance,” St. John’s head coach Ian Stone said. “Samford is a fantastic team, they have had a great deal of success and really gave us a fight. I thought we played very well and maybe could have capitalized on more opportunities, but it was great NCAA Tournament type game and we are so glad to get though and are looking forward to Sunday.”
Nicole Gordon struck in the 15th minute for St. John’s. The sequence started as Garziano sent a through ball up to Gordon inside the box. The Amityville, N.Y. native rocketed her shot to the left corner of the cage.
Gordon nearly made it a two-goal advantage twice in the 20th and 21st minutes. The sophomore forward saw her first shot stopped by the goalkeeper before her second attempt went just off target.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the 28th minute when Alyssa Conarton converted on a free kick. The junior defender sent a right-footed blast to the top left corner of the cage for the equalizer.
Just seven minutes into the second half, the Johnnies struck again as Aviza scored her first goal of the season to give for a 2-1 lead. Zsani Kajan sent a free kick into the box that Aviza headed home.
In the 82nd minute, Samford’s Alyssa Frazier converted a penalty kick to knot the score at 2-2.
With the clock winding down, the Johnnies saw one final opportunity in regulation, as Gordon put a shot on target. The sophomore forward’s attempt to was smothered by the goalkeeper.