The men’s soccer team came back from a two-goal deficit at St. John’s for their first away win of the season and a season sweep of St. John’s with their 3-2 overtime win on Wednesday.
This was Pirates’ third consecutive win after a pair of wins over Villanova and Providence at home last week, and they remained tied atop the East Division standings with No. 3 Georgetown at 13 points each. With this win, the Pirates have now won four regular season conference games for the first time since 2006.
Seton Hall’s two-game sweep of the Red Storm also means they have won consecutive games over their metropolitan rivals for the first time since 1991.
50' (SJU): After an attempted ball into the St. John’s penalty box from the Pirates was cleared away, Johan Aquilon led the Red Storm’s charge forward on the counter. He attempted to release Aidan Borra down the left flank with a ball out wide, but the freshman midfielder stopped short and delivered an early cross into the box. Tani Oluwaseyi connected with the ball on a header only to hit the post, but Wesley Leggett was on deck to tap the rebound in beyond Andreas Nota.
53' (SJU): The Pirates failed to deal with a cross sent into the box, blocking multiple shots from St. John’s players before Jared Juleau struck a well-placed volley into the top corner of the net to double the Red Storm’s lead.
56' (SHU): Just minutes after St. John’s second goal of the game, JP Marin won a penalty kick after being taken down in the box in a five-person scramble for the ball. The junior forward then stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a low drive to the bottom right corner, pulling one back for the Pirates.
73' (SHU): As the Pirates began to build on their momentum from the penalty kick goal, Almeida Sundell found himself with room to dribble toward goal without any defensive pressure from the Red Storm. He played a chipped ball between two players into CJ Tibbling’s run across the 18-yard box, and the Swedish striker took the pass brilliantly in stride with a backheel flick. Tibbling then hammered the ball up and over the goalkeeper on the volley to provide Seton Hall with an equalizer in stunning fashion.
93' (SHU): Denis Kelmendi delivered a looping cross into the box that St. John’s struggled to deal with, eventually knocking the ball right to Raz Amir who scored the game-winning goal with a half-volley that bounced into the net off the post.
The first half’s action gave no insight into just how explosive the second half would turn out to be in terms of goals. While the feistiness between these two rivals progressively intensified throughout with subtle jabs and aggressive fouls, neither side mustered more than three shots in the first 45 minutes of action.
Seton Hall had the advantage in shots early in the first half with their third coming through some nifty footwork from Tibbling in the box, but the Swede’s shot sailed over the bar. St. John’s threatened with their size off a few set pieces, but neither side could find the finishing touch to give themselves an advantage heading into the half time break.
St. John’s started to take control of the game at the start of the second half and were rewarded for their dominance with two goals in the opening 11 minutes. The Red Storm did well to congest the center of the field to prevent the Pirates from breaking on the counterattack, and they peppered Nota’s penalty box with crosses and shots.
The game never reached a boiling point, but Seton Hall and St. John’s combined for 39 fouls throughout the game. Four Pirates were given yellow cards while just two from the Red Storm were given caution cards for the aggressive extracurriculars going on during a hotly contested second half battle.
Marin’s penalty kick just before the hour mark ultimately swayed momentum back in the Pirates’ favor, though. After he converted the spot kick, Seton Hall looked more confident in possession and began finding success down the flanks against the Red Storm. Tibbling also continued to orchestrate the offense’s movement in the final third with his delicate close control and composure even when pressed by three defenders at a time.
The Swedish striker got his goal in brilliant fashion as he received a ball at hip level in stride and struck it past the St. John’s goalkeeper on the volley. It was Tibbling’s fourth goal of the season and 11th of his Seton Hall career.
At 2-2, both sides began to push numbers forward whenever possible, but neither side could break down the other’s defense in the remaining minutes of regulation time. Heading into their fourth period of overtime this season, the Pirates were still in search of their first win away from home and in overtime.
Both would finally come just three minutes in as St. John’s failed to clear Kelmendi’s cross, and Amir was set up perfectly for a half-volley. The freshman tried his luck with an admittedly awkward take on goal, but his confidence was met with a little bit of luck as the ball hit the back of the net by way of the post to seal a 3-2 win for Seton Hall.
With their win over St. John's, the Pirates improved to 6-1-2 on the season and 4-1-1 in Big East conference play. Now tied atop their division standings with No. 3 Georgetown, the Pirates will have an opportunity to surpass the Hoyas as outright leaders of the conference when they face off at Owen T. Carroll Field on Saturday. The reverse fixture at Georgetown saw the Pirates lose 2-1 in overtime, but their current momentum and home-field advantage may provide the extra bit of energy Seton Hall need to overcome the Hoyas at the second time of asking.
Justin Sousa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinSousa99.