Men's Soccer Upsets St. John's 3-1 in First Round of BIG EAST
Nov. 3, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. -- Marquette University (7-7-4) upset St. John's (10-6-2) in the first round of the BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over the defending tournament champions at Belson Stadium.
MU, the No. 6 seed in the Blue Division, scored twice in the second half to knock off the Red Storm, the No. 3 seed in the Red Division. Senior Anthony Colaizzi tallied the eventual game-winning goal in the 75th minute.
With the win, the Golden Eagles advance to face No. 2 (Blue) Notre Dame for a quarterfinal match on Saturday, Nov. 6.
The Golden Eagles opened scoring the 14th minute. Michael Alfano set up for a throw-in near the St. John's bench, even with the top of the 18-yard box. His flip throw found junior Calum Mallace in the box, who played a back-heel pass to classmate Amilcar Herrera at the back post. Herrera volleyed it past St. John's goalkeeper Rafael Diaz to give MU a 1-0 lead and snapped a six-game shutout streak by Diaz, who had not allowed a goal in over 625:00 minutes of action.
St.John's leveled the match right before the end of the half. Omar Edwards hit the crossbar, but the rebound was picked up by Walter Hines who finished inside the right post in the 42nd minute to tie the match at 1-1.
"Giving up a goal late in the first half could have had more significance had we not discussed it at halftime," said head coach Louis Bennett. "Our game plan, and key to winning the game, was staying compact but putting pressure on St. John's further up the field rather than just collapsing. I can't speak highly enough of the players at halftime accepting the criticism without hesitation and then responding. Our work rate while staying organized really disabled their ability to hustle, play the ball quickly and get behind us."
Colaizzi's game-winner came off a fortunate bounce to the left back, who was pushing forward initially off of a Marquette counter. Colaizzi picked up the bouncing ball and snuck it inside the left post with a left-footed shot from 16 yards.
"I saw the ball was going to pop out, so I read the situation, took a couple of touches past the defenders and placed it near post," said Colaizzi, who celebrated his first goal of the season with a cartwheel into a back flip. "I was on a full sprint, so I had a lot of momentum driving into the box."
"It's something I've been waiting to do for four years," the senior said of his post-goal celebration. "I was waiting for a big goal and ther was no better time to pull it off than tonight."
Calum Mallace tacked on an insurance goal just a few minutes later on a similar situation, only his strike came from about 25 yards out. It was Mallace's team-leading sixth goal of the season to make the score 3-1.
Marquette sophomore goalkeeper David Check made five saves, all in the second half, including a few brilliant stops in the closing minutes to keep the Red Storm off the board in the final stanza and thwart any chance of a late comeback.
"For the players that are going to return, it gives them a rung on the ladder, a point of reference and very significant point of reference, especially since this is one of the toughest places to play and St. John's is one of the toughest teams in the country," said Bennett.
It was a milestone victory for the Golden Eagles, who on Wednesday captured their first postseason win since joining the BIG EAST in 2005, and seven wins marks the most wins in a season for MU in the last seven years.
Marquette will play the Fighting Irish at 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET) this Saturday. Notre Dame defeated MU 4-1 during regular season play on Oct. 13, snapping MU's season-long six-game unbeaten streak.