St. John's Downs Marist, 2-1, in Home Opener|
Aug. 22, 2017
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“I thought in the first half our speed of play was a little slow,” Head Coach Ian Stone said. “They dropped off us a little bit, which meant that we took too much time to advance the ball up the field, too many backwards passes. So in the second half, I thought we did a better job of not only playing a little more positively in terms of forward passes, but also trying to press them and stop them from playing out, which I think made a huge difference. But they’re a good team. They fought right to the end. We’re obviously disappointed with conceding a goal at the end which we have to get better with.
Meeting for the first time since 2005, the Red Storm and Red Foxes got off to a quick start, as the Johnnies earned a corner kick less than a minute into play. After a clearance, Marist took the game’s first shot that was turned aside by redshirt freshman goalkeeper Jordan Kamp. Later in the opening half, Christina Bellero took a pair of shots in a three-minute span, both of which were saved by Marist’s Makala Foley.
In what was a quiet first half, Shea Connors had a shot saved in the 27th minute before Maria Gonzalez Bullon had one blocked in the 36th minute. Then, with time winding down in the first half, Claudia Cagnina sent a shot on goal that was saved. Mariela Jacome was there to clean up the rebound, finding the back of the net but not before the horn sounded to signal the end of the first 45 minutes.
St. John’s held a 7-4 advantage in shots after one half of play as Foley was tasked with making five saves for Marist. Kamp turned away the only shot she faced in the opening half.
In the second half, St. John’s came out looking to get on the board early. In the 49th minute, Connors sent a sliding attempt just wide before Jacome had a shot blocked in the 54th minute. In the 59th minute, the Johnnies were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Maia Cabrera sent a scorcher of a shot just inches over the bar.
On the ensuing goal kick, the Johnnies forced a turnover and Lucy Whipp found Bellero on the left side. Bellero then sent a shot inside the far post, giving the Red Storm a 1-0 advantage. The goal was Bellero’s team-leading second on the young season.
Less than two minutes later, Bellero had a chance to put the Red Storm up 2-0, but her shot sailed just wide. Later, Whipp sent one high as the Johnnies continued to pressure the Red Foxes.
In the 68th minute, Bellero sent a looping shot to the far post that was saved, but Jacome was there to follow, finding the back of the net for her first tally of the season.
With just over 20 minutes remaining in the second half, the Red Foxes went on the offensive. After being held to just one shot in the first 25 minutes of the latter stanza, Marist earned a free kick in the 86th minute that was within striking range. Alexa Svesson sent a ball into the box that found the head of Nicole Sasso for the goal, making it a 2-1 game with 15 minutes left in the second half.
In the closing minutes, the St. John’s turned up the pressure, holding off a strong Marist attack. The Red Storm blocked a shot in the 87th minute before Kamp made a save in the 88th minute. With time winding down, Marist’s Camille Bowen sent a shot off the crossbar as the Johnnies were able to come away with the 2-1 victory.
Bellero finished with a game-high six shots, five of which were on target.
“[Bellero] was fantastic. That was the best game I have ever seen her play and I told her that,” Stone said of the junior from Melville. “She’s almost impossible to defend when she’s in that mood because its not just speed. It’s skill, agility and cutting past defenders. We just had to keep giving the ball to her because she was on fire tonight.”
The Red Storms return to action on Sunday, Aug. 22 when it visits Fairfield for a 1 p.m. opening kick.