The Seton Hall men’s soccer team opened up their Big East conference schedule with a tough 1-0 loss against St. John’s, at home on Saturday.
It was a very physical match from the start with the Pirates and Red Storm eager to bring home a win in the first conference game for both New York area rivals. Both teams’ aggression led to a lot of whistle blowing with 47 total fouls called and 11 cards handed out. The Red Storm found themselves on the wrong end of the whistle for 28 of the 47 fouls called against them but were not handed a red card. Instead, it was the Pirates, who saw not one, but two players ejected in Spencer Burkhardt and Nick Najera.
“It’s frustrating because when you look at 28-to-19 and we’re the ones with two [red] cards, of course, the kids are frustrated,” head coach Gerson Echeverry said. “At the same time, they have to learn to deal with that.”
The lone goal of the match was scored by Jordan Shankle, his first of the year. Shankle controlled the ball off a rebound on a save by Pirates goalkeeper Steven Catudal, and with Catudal off his line, ripped a shot off the crossbar and in with six minutes remaining in the first half.
Despite being down two men for part of the second half, Seton Hall continued to fight and create opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, outshooting the Red Storm 6-to-3 in the second period.
“Just playing down one man is tough but playing down two men is even harder,” Echeverry said. “It really shows the personality and the fighting spirit [of the team], but the only thing is we shouldn’t be in that position of being two men down.”
Another stat of note is that the Pirates were able to successfully defend against 12 St. John’s corner kicks, something that The Hall has done well all year.
“It’s concentration. Guys are staying with their man and fortunately we’re not giving up silly goals on restarts,” Echeverry said.
Looking forward, the Pirates will have one last non-conference matchup on Tuesday in Bethlehem, Pa., against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, before fully immersing themselves in Big East conference play. Although the game against Lehigh does not count toward Big East standings, Echeverry and the Pirates are not overlooking the game with the rest of conference play looming.
“We’ve got to start a winning streak again and that’s what it’s all about,” Echeverry said.
Nicholas Santoriello can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @nicksantoriello.