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It was the second straight year the Red Storm took to the road for a first-round game and for a second consecutive time, St. John's (14-4-2) upset the host school by a 1-0 score.
Last year it was the University of Maryland that fell as Carlo Acquista found the back of the net with a late goal and against the Dukes. Saturday it was Shalrie Joseph who provided the heroics, as the junior striker scored the game-winner in the 76th minute to advance the Red Storm to the second round of the tournament.
"We're happy to win," said St. John's head coach Dave Masur. "It was a tough game. JMU is a very well organized team. The game could have gone either way and we're fortunate to come out with a victory."
St. John's will return to the "Old Dominion State" to face No. 5 Virginia, one of eight seeded teams in the tournament, in the second round of the NCAA tournament this weekend. The game will be played Sunday and the time has yet to be determined. The Cavaliers (16-5-1) routed Lehigh 5-0 Sunday in the most lopsided of the 16 first round games.
St. John's scored its only goal when senior Omar Chavez found fellow junior midfielder Jeff Matteo alone on the left side of the box. Matteo eluded a defender and crossed the ball in to Joseph, whose one-timer from 10-yards out beat JMU sophomore keeper Josh Kovolenko low inside the far post. It was Joseph's team-leading 14th goal of the year.
"Omar played the ball to Jeff and Jeff dribbled down the line," Joseph said. "[Rich Bradley] made a run to the front post, which opened me up and Jeff just found me."
James Madison (17-4-1) controlled the opening minutes of the game and put pressure on the Red Storm defensive third, but to no avail. Matteo answered with two chances of his own, a header from senior Adam Maurer and a cross from sophomore Dave O'Donnell, but both shots were off the mark.
Joseph and Bradley each had great opportunities late in the first half, each getting off shots in the 18-yard box, but neither was able to capitalize.
The Dukes' best scoring chance came minutes into the second half when senior Brandon Wright got free in the box, but Red Storm senior keeper Jeff Stoklosa made the stop, one of seven saves, to earn his eighth shutout of the year.
"We fell asleep one time and St. John's took advantage of the lapse and that was the game," said James Madison head coach Tom Martin. "It was a very difficult game, but we can't lose sight of the season we had."
While the Red Storm had a dogfight in its first round game, the Virginia Cavaliers had an easy time with the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh. George Gelnovatch's squad built a 2-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 5-0 victory after outshooting Lehigh 30-1.
Freshman Ryan Kelly scored two goals and freshman phenom Alecko Eskandarian, junior Steve Totten and sophomore Eric Solomon each added a goal apiece in the rout.
The Red Storm will have to be wary of Eskandarian, one of the most dangerous freshman strikers in the country. The 5-foot-8 freshman from Montvale, N.J. broke Gelnovatch's record for points in a season by a freshman with his 38th against Lehigh. He is also tied with his coach for most goals scored by a freshman in a season at Virginia with 16. Eskandarian was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and joined sophomore midfielder Kyle Martino, one of the top playmakers in the midfield in the country, on the All-ACC first team. Totten was named to the All-ACC second team.
"They're a dangerous team and we're going to have our hands full keeping them at bay," Masur said. "We need to make sure we have a lot of energy, think quick and make sure we close them down."
St. John's and Virginia drew 1-1 on Aug. 26 in College Park, Md. Totten scored for the Cavaliers in the 54th minute and Antonio Theorides netted the equalizer for the Red Storm in the 81st minute. The two teams have played once in the regular season, with Virginia winning the game, 2-0, on Sept. 4, 1994.
The winner of the game takes on either Creighton or San Diego in the NCAA quarterfinals.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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