CLOUD NINE: Bennett Tallies Golden Goal As No. 21/21 St. John's Defeats No. 4/3 Connecticut, 1-0, For Ninth BIG EAST Tournament Crown|
Nov. 13, 2011
HARRISON, N.J. - BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Offensive Player Jack Bennett netted the golden goal, his fifth game-winner of the season, on a breakaway in the 97th minute as No. 21/21 St. John's defeated No. 4/3 Connecticut, 1-0, in overtime to win its conference-best ninth tournament crown. Alex Naples made one save to post his third-consecutive shutout for St. John's (14-6-2), which held the Huskies scoreless for just the fifth time this season. Andre Blake made one save for Connecticut (17-3-2).
"We knew this would be a battle. Connecticut is very well-coached team and an extremely tough opponent, but we have prepared all season for this opportunity," said head coach Dr. Dave Masur. "Our guys were focused and did not let up throughout the entire game and that was the difference today; a play from Jack [Bennett] that was all hustle and determination. We are thrilled and obviously it feels fantastic to end up as the champions."
St. John's created the first scoring opportunity in just the 4th minute as Jimmy Mulligan fired a shot wide.
Connecticut followed with a chance of its own in the 6th minute, but Naples made the save on a shot by Mamadou Doudou Diouf.
The Red Storm had a dangerous opportunity in the 16th minute as a centering pass from the right corner set up a glancing header for Bennett that went across the goal and wide.
The Huskies followed with a near miss of their own as Diouf missed high on a one-timer from close range.
A foul in the 21st minute set up the next chance for the Red Storm. Lade sent the free kick on net, but it was right at Blake for the save.
St. John's blocked a pair of Tony Cascio shots in the 41st and 45th minutes and the game remained scoreless at halftime.
The Red Storm quickly created a pair of chances in the second half, but Mulligan pushed a shot wide in the 54th minute before missing wide again in the 57th minute.
The St. John's defense blocked shots by Carlos Alvarez and Cascio in the 59th minute and the offense worked for a quick counter, but Hines missed a shot wide.
A blocked Tim Parker shot in the 71st minute set up a Red Storm corner kick, but St. John's could not create shot.
After Bennett missed wide with a header in the 75th minute, St. John's nearly took the lead in the 78th minute. A ball played to the top of the box was flicked on by Bennett to the far post, but Nick Matthews fired into the side netting.
St. John's had one final chance in regulation as Juan Andres Aguiar Dorante pushed a shot wide from the right corner of the box in the 89th minute and the game headed to overtime.
A Connecticut corner kick set up the first scoring chance in extra time, but a header by Nickardo Blake went wide in the 94th minute.
In the 97th minute, however, it was Bennett that single-handedly won the game for the Red Storm. The play started as Connecticut worked the ball back to BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Jean Baptiste. As Baptiste attempted a pass upfield, Bennett stepped in and won a deflection 35-yards out. Bennett then dribbled quickly in towards goal and beat Blake from 12-yards out with a shot inside the right post to give St. John's the title.
St. John's now advances to the NCAA Tournament as the automatic qualifier from the BIG EAST. The NCAA selection show will be streamed online at www.ncaa.com at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.