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SJU comes back to beat Duke, 2-1, in OT

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PISCATAWAY, N.J.— The St. John’s men’s soccer team had not trailed once in its first seven games of the season. But when Duke’s Demitrio Sanchez scored in the 40th minute Sunday, the Red Storm had its first taste of adversity. And head coach Dave Masur was anxious to see how his team would react.

Masur got his answer soon enough, as goals by Chris Corcoran and Angel Rodriguez lifted the third-ranked Red Storm to a 2-1 double overtime win over the Blue Devils at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field in the 15th annual Philips Lighting/Adidas Soccer Classic.

“It was nice to see that we were down and came back to win — that was the most important aspect of the game in my eyes because we’ve been up in all of our games,” Masur said. “It was good to see against a good team, in a good spot. We did pretty good to make it happen. It was nice to get two goals.”

Host Rutgers, thanks to a 3-2 double overtime win over Duke and a 3-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton, captured its first tournament title since 1995, as it eked out St. John’s in a most-goals-scored tiebreaker.

Rodriguez ended the game in the 119th minute on a nice setup by sophomore midfielder Chris Bennice. Senior Shalrie Joseph kept the ball in the attacking third and pushed it into the box, where Bennice found Rodriguez. But Rodriguez opted to pass back to Bennice, who again slotted the ball to Rodriguez. This time the sophomore striker would shoot, and his chip from 14 yards out beat Duke keeper Scott Maslin to the far post to clinch the game with just 1:54 left in the second overtime session.

“I got the ball and I was looking at the goal, but I didn’t see a shooting opportunity so I passed to Bennice and he gave the one-two back to me,” said Rodriguez, who scored his second goal of the year. “That’s when I saw the goal, saw the opportunity. That’s when I shot it.”

St. John’s (7-0-1) played well in the first half, but had very little to show in terms of quality scoring chances. Instead it was Duke (4-5) with the most dangerous opportunities, including a great series of passes to lead to its lone goal in the 40th minute.

Junior midfielder Trevor Perea led Jordan Cila, who in turn found Sanchez free in the box. The senior forward’s shot from 10-yards out beat Red Storm junior keeper Guy Hertz as the Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead into the break. It was just the fourth goal the Red Storm’s stingy defense has allowed this season.

“Ninety percent of what we did in the first half was brilliant, but they had the three best chances of the half, so we have to be a little bit better, be better at playing the speed and have a better physical presence,” Masur said. “We played a little too slow and we didn’t have a quick and sharp enough cutting edge in the attacking third again.”

Sanchez’s fifth goal of the year, and second of the tournament, didn’t hold up though, thanks to a phenomenal goal by Chris Corcoran in the 75th minute.

Freshman Matt Groenwald sent a low line drive corner kick towards the near post, where Corcoran, with his back to goal, flicked the ball inside the far post from six yards out to tie the game for the Red Storm. The goal — Corcoran's second in as many games — was a brilliant one, even if the freshman didn’t mean to shoot the ball.

“It was actually a perfect ball and I was just trying to keep it alive and I just hit it absolutely perfect,” Corcoran said. “The next thing you know I turned around and [Maslin] was out of position and it just goes right over his head.”

The Red Storm had a great chance to take the lead less than a minute later, when Andre Schmid leapt in the air and blocked Maslin’s clearance attempt in the box. The ball bounced free and John Carrozza settled it 12 yards out, but his shot at the open net rang off the near post. Groenwald controlled the rebound, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.

“[This game] proves that we have character and we have the ability to [come from behind], but we still have to work on a lot of details because we always want to get better,” said Rodriguez, who along with Joseph and Chris Wingert were named to the all-tournament team. “We have high standards so we got to get better.”

St. John’s begins a stretch of three straight Big East road games Sunday when they face Pittsburgh (3-7, 0-5 Big East) at 1 p.m.

St. John’s 2, Cal State Fullerton 1. Corcoran netted the game-winner for the Red Storm, lofting a rebound into the open net from 10 yards out in the 104th minute as St. John’s defeated Cal State Fullerton in the opening game of the tournament Friday. Wingert gave the Red Storm a 1-0 lead, heading in Groenwald’s corner kick in the 37th minute. Hector Orellana tied the game for the Titans (3-4-1) on a free kick in the 67th minute.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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