Antek Sienkiel celebrates his third goal. (Photo courtesy of St. John’s)
Redshirt junior midfielder Antek Sienkiel became the first St. John’s men’s player in nearly two decades to record a hat-trick, leading the Red Storm to a 5-0 win over Lehigh University at Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y. on Friday evening.
It was the Johnnies’ (1-2) first win of the season.
Sienkiel, who had logged two goals in 40 career appearances entering the contest, recorded the 21st hat trick in St. John’s history and the first since Andrei Gotsmanov on Oct. 30, 2004, against USF.
Brandon Knapp and Wesley Leggett also found the back of the net on Friday night.
Making his collegiate debut, Miguel Diaz recorded an assist on Sienkiel’s first two goals. Leggett added set up another goal. Drew Rosen assisted on the fifth and final goal of the evening.
Freshman goalkeeper Zenden Hart registered his first shutout as a member of the Red Storm, turning aside all four shots.
The Red Storm’s five goals marked the team’s best output since beating Columbia University, 5-1, on Sept. 16, 2019. The Johnnies scored three times in an opening half for the first time since Sept. 23, 2017, against Xavier University.
The Red Storm nearly jumped ahead in the opening minute, as Diaz drew a foul near the top of the box to set up a free kick. Sienkiel placed a sold right foot on it, but his chance missed just high.
Following a few more chances for each side, Sienkiel broke through in the 18th minute. Jordan Bailon played a long ball into the box from the left side that bounced around before being corralled by Diaz. The freshman dropped a pass for Sienkiel, who blasted a shot into the top-right corner of the net.
Diaz and Sienkiel connected for another goal exactly five minutes later, as Diaz drew attention from multiple defenders with some nifty footwork before threading a pass into Sienkiel. The midfielder finished with authority for a 2-0 lead.
St. John’s wasted no time padding its lead, as Nigel Griffith drew a foul in the box to set up a penalty kick for Knapp, who converted for a three-goal advantage on the half hour.
Sienkiel completed his hat-trick in the 51st minute, burying a Leggett rebound for a 4-0 margin.
Fifteen minutes later, it was Leggett’s turn to finish on a second chance, as the senior converted the rebound from Rosen’s initial shot.
The Red Storm will return to action on Tuesday evening, traveling to Bloomington, Ind. for an 8 p.m. match against longtime rival Indiana University.
The Johnnies and the Hoosiers are 3-3-2 all-time against one another with three of those matches coming in December, including two in the College Cup (2001 and 2003). In 2008, the Red Storm completed a miraculous comeback at Belson Stadium to beat the Hoosiers an earn a spot in the College Cup, scoring twice in the final nine minutes of regulation before winning in extratime.