Nov. 11, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. - After a three-year hiatus, St. John's women's soccer is back in the NCAA Tournament. In yet another season marked by both individual and team milestones, the 2013 edition of the Red Storm has made history once again, earning the program's second-ever NCAA Tournament bid in the program's 27th year of existence. St. John's will face UCF on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"I'm so, so happy that we've managed to get into the NCAA Tournament. It's a dream," stated head coach Ian Stone. "I think it takes a whole body of work to get in. We have 11 wins now, and I think one of the things that factored into our selection is the fact that we've done well recently and obviously making the BIG EAST Semifinals."
In 2009, St. John's earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth after compiling a 13-6-2 record and posting the second-most wins in program history, one short of tying the record set in 1994. The Red Storm battled Virginia to a double-overtime scoreless tie at Jeffrey Field on the campus of Penn State on Nov. 13 before the Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA Second Round on penalty kicks. That season, St. John's also advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals, losing a closely-decided contest in overtime to Notre Dame by a score of 2-1.
This year's Red Storm has enjoyed quite a few highlights of its own. St. John's enters the NCAA Tournament with a record of 11-5-3, including an undefeated 7-0-3 mark at home. The Red Storm opened the season 6-0-0, marking the program's best start since 2004 when St. John's started 6-0-2. St. John's, the fourth seed in the conference tournament, scored a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Butler in the opening round at Belson Stadium on Nov. 5, before suffering a 2-0 loss to top seed Marquette in the program's fourth appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals in Milwaukee, Wis.
In all, the Red Storm has posted 10 shutouts this season, including two of the 120-minute variety, and at one point held a shutout streak spanning over 450 minutes. In the regular-season finale on Nov. 3 and a crucial game to clinch its entry into the BIG EAST Tournament, St. John's defied the odds by claiming a 3-0 victory over DePaul - who had only allowed nine goals all season heading into the contest - in front of a season-high 1,759 fans at Belson Stadium on Senior Night.
"The biggest thing for me is the fact that we have 12 seniors that have never been to the NCAA Tournament. It really has been a journey for them, where we struggled for the first couple of years. To their credit, the girls put in so much work and believed in what we were doing, and obviously you can see the results this year," Stone continued. "It's a very talented group that really had to come together as a team. We had our backs against the wall a number of times this season, and that's when you really find out what that character is all about, when they really had no other choice but to come together. That's what makes this so exciting for me."
The 2013 campaign has also seen members of Red Storm reach great individual heights. Sophomore forward Rachel Daly marked a historic season by being named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches. The conference's and nation's leading scorer as of Nov. 7, Daly was also named a unanimous selection to the All-BIG EAST First Team and is only the second St. John's women's soccer student-athlete to earn a BIG EAST major award and the first to be awarded two in the same year. Daly was a unanimous selection for both major accolades and in her first season with the Red Storm set all-time single season points (47) and goals (22) records, both previously held by St. John's great Cristin Burtis.
Joining Daly as a All-BIG EAST First Team selection was junior defender Georgia Kearney-Perry, while senior midfielder Amy Marron was named to the Second Team and freshman goalie Diana Poulin was named to the Third Team.
St. John's is one of four BIG EAST teams to make the field of 64, which includes Marquette, Georgetown and DePaul.