STORRS, CT – In a classic Rutgers-St. John’s match, St. John’s outlasted its arch-rival in penalty kicks, 4-3, in the BIG EAST Men’s Soccer semifinals Friday night in Storrs, CT. Under intermittent flurries at Morrone Stadium, the fourth-seeded Scarlet Knights and the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Red Storm played the first 64 minutes without scoring a goal, before Rutgers broke through in the 66th minute. A St. John’s goal with less than six minutes remaining evened the match at 1-1, sending it to overtime where the match was settled on penalty kicks.
After successful penalty kicks by seniors Josh Gros (Mechanicsburg, PA) and Todd Moser (Fanwood, NJ) and junior Anthony Schiavino (North Hunterdon, NJ), both teams entered the fifth and final round of penalty kicks knotted at three a piece. St. John’s capitalized on a failed attempt by Rutgers junior Chris Karcz (Clifton, NJ) as SJU’s Simone Salinno registered the game-deciding penalty kick to seal the match for the Red Storm, 4-3.
The game was eerily similar to the 1996 BIG EAST semifinal contest in Piscataway, NJ, where Rutgers pulled out the win on penalty kicks, 3-2.
Rutgers’ attacking third broke the scoreless stalemate with just over 24 minutes remaining in regulation, executing a perfect cross which Moser fired home from six yards out for the score. The goal is Moser’s first of the season.
Freshman Larry Mark (Beltsville, MD) set up the play with a long cross from the far side.
Moser, who moved from his traditional spot on the back line to forward for just the third time this season, received the ball off a Wes Kirk (Bloomfield, NJ) deflection, sending the hard shot into the back of the net for the score.
Pressing hard for the tying score, St. John’s evened the match as SJU’s Ryan Kelly headed home the equalizer with less than six minutes remaining. The Red Storm’s Matia Damiani sent the ball to Kelly, who put home the score.
Both Rutgers and St. John’s played evenly throughout the opening minutes. The Red Storm attack chipped past the RU defense in the 15th minute, getting off a hard shot, but Rutgers freshman goalkeeper Lubos Ancin (Burlington, NJ) was there to coral the ball for the save. Ancin made a number of key saves in the match. With just over 28 minutes remaining in the game, Ancin made a diving stop off a Matt Groenwald rocket, sparking a Scarlet Knight offense which moved the ball across the midfield line where RU’s attacking third got new life, leading to Moser’s goal.
“We played a very tough St. John’s team tonight,” said Rutgers head coach Bob Reasso. “It was a classic battle in one of the greatest rivalries in college soccer. We now will see what happens on Monday when the NCAA Tournament field is announced.”
In the first match this season between the two rivals on Sept. 10, St. John’s pulled out a 3-1 victory in Jamaica, NY.
Ancin made a career-high eight saves in goal for the Scarlet Knights. His counterpart from St. John’s, Bill Gaudette, tallied two saves. SJU outshot Rutgers, 28-6. St. John’s inserted Guy Hertz in goal for the penalty kick round.
Rutgers moves to 10-6-4 overall, while St. John's improves to 14-4-2.
Rutgers now awaits its fate as selections for the 2003 NCAA Tournament will be announced on Monday at 3:30 p.m.