Historically, opening day for the Big East regular season has a day to forget for the men's soccer team. Over the last decade, they had lost every single Big East opener to a collection of opponents including St. John's, Providence, DePaul, Creighton and Syracuse. In fact, the last time Seton Hall won their Big East regular season opener was in 2009 with a 3-1 win over Syracuse.
With the season's opener scheduled to be against St. John's, history also favored the Redstorm as the Pirates had not beaten them since 2014 nor had they recorded a home win over their metropolitan rivals since 2005. On Saturday, however, the Pirates finally broke their stretch of loss-filled Big East openers with a statement 1-0 win over St. John's.
2': After a bad touch saw JP Marin relinquish possession to St. John's, the junior quickly pressed the Redstorm's defenders to force a turnover outside of their box. He laid off a pass to Paavo Riihijarvi who took his first touch inside and fired a low shot past Jan Hoffelner in net.
The Pirates were electric in the opening minutes of the game, relentlessly pressing St. John's on the sidelines and ultiamtely scoring through the noble pressing efforts of Marin higher up the field.
Seton Hall's offense created to shots on target in the opening two minutes of the game with the second from Riihijarvi finding the back of the net. It was the Finnish junior's first goal for the Pirates and Marin's third assist of the season. Marin has now assisted each of the team's last three goals dating back to their 2-0 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Feb. 24.
The Redstorm were uncharacteristically dull in the first half, but it was more to the credit of Seton Hall's defensive efforts than a lack of productivity from St. John's creative players. St. John's had just six shots in the game with only one being on target after coming into this game having scored six goals in their two games prior.
The second half was no different for Seton Hall, continuing to press St. John's and prevent them from having time and space on the ball. Though the Pirates did not add to their lead, they did end the game out-shooting St. John's 18-8. Their shutout also meant that they had kept three consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2005.
Andreas Nota, who was in goal for the game, kept his second consecutive clean sheet of the season and just his seventh of his collegiate career. The Pirates extended their undefeated streak to four games, starting the season with a 3-0-1 record and outscoring their opponents 7-3.
Up next for the Pirates is an away trip to Washington, D.C. where they will face 2019 National Champions Georgetown on Wednesday, Mar. 2. Like St. John's, Georgetown have not been beaten by the Pirates since 2014. Seton Hall have also failed to score against the Hoyas in their last four meetings and have been outscored 9-0 in their last three.
Justin Sousa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.