Johnston's Brace Powers St. John's Past UC Santa Barbara, 2-1|
Sept. 12, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. - Paced by Alistair Johnston's first career multi-goal game, the St. John's men's soccer team rattled off its second-straight home win and extended its unbeaten streak to three, downing perennial West Coast power UC Santa Barbara, 2-1, at Belson Stadium on Tuesday night.
With four goals through the team's first six games, Johnston has already matched his scoring total from a 2016 campaign that saw him earn a spot on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team at season's end.
Freshman forward Jack Shearer recorded his first collegiate points against the Gauchos, assisting on both of Johnston's goals. Andrea Previati also added a helper on the evening, dishing out the primary assist on Johnston's second tally.
"I thought tonight was an exciting game against a really good and organized team," said Dr. Dave Masur following the match. "[UCSB Head Coach] Tim Vom Steeg does a great job."
After UCSB (0-4-2) recorded the first three shots of the game in the opening five minutes, St. John's (3-2-1) quickly took control of the momentum. The Johnnies registered a few quality chances before Johnston broke through in the 31st minute. After UCSB sent a ball back toward the keeper in its own zone, the sophomore from Aurora, Ont., applied tremendous pressure, forcing an errant pass directly to the feet of Shearer. The Aliquippa, Pa., native quickly played it back to Johnston, who buried it home into the wide open net to give his team the 1-0 advantage.
"It was nice that we got out early with Jack and Alistair making the big play in the middle," said Masur on his team's effort in the game's beginning stages. "I thought we stayed fairly organized and pressed them well in the first half, so it was nice to be up 1-0 as a result."
Less than a minute into the latter stanza, the Red Storm struck again to take a commanding 2-0 lead. The sequence began with a throw in on the left side from Bjarni Rognvaldsson, who found Shearer inside the box. After playing it down off his chest, Shearer moved it along to Previati, who delivered a quick pass to a streaking Johnston. With a terrific look in front, Johnston wasted no time finding the back of the net, putting his team ahead by a pair.
The Gauchos would pull within one just over seven minutes later off a terrific header from freshman Rodney Michael, but the Red Storm defense held strong over the remainder of the contest to secure the victory.
"I thought our back line did a great job," said Masur. "I thought Jordan Shankle did a terrific job dealing with a lot of their better players coming down that left side and really battled hard alongside Wilhelm Nilsson, David Enstrom and Bjarni Rognvaldsson. All those guys did fantastic jobs for us."
Reigning BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week Andrew Withers recorded three saves in the victory, while Thomas Mickoski, who missed the team's last three games with an injury, played the final eight minutes of the contest.
The Red Storm will kick off BIG EAST play on Saturday afternoon, traveling to South Orange, N.J, for a matchup with local rival Seton Hall. First kick is set for 1 p.m. on the BIG EAST Digital Network.