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Even after the St. Johns Classic championship trophy was handed over to teammate Chris Wingert, and most of the 1,000 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point had filed out, Rich Bradley was still in shock.
The senior midfielder on the St. Johns mens soccer team still had trouble grasping that the Red Storm netted two goals in the opening five minutes his being the second en route to a 3-0 rout of an Indiana team that last beat St. Johns in the NCAA semifinals.
Sure, they were without sophomore striker Mike Ambersley, whose goal and assist led the Hoosiers into the national championship game last year but is out with a back injury, and their defense was young and vulnerable. But this is still Indiana, which rarely gets manhandled the way it did Saturday night.
I was surprised we scored two goals as fast as we did because theyre usually a very disciplined team and a strong team at the back, Bradley said. But it was also a tremendous thing for us because it helped lift us up and get us through the half and the rest of the game.
Bradley wasnt the only one surprised. St. Johns opening two goals, both coming off restarts, left longtime Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley scratching his head.
Credit goes to St. Johns. I dont remember the last time we gave up one goal, let alone two in the first five minutes, said Yeagley, who suffered a 3-0 defeat for only the fifth time in his 30 years at the helm. Both of them were restarts, a corner kick and a throw in. Other than that, they didnt have a good chance from scrimmage in the first half.
The win was a small measure of revenge for St. Johns after the heartbreaking double-overtime loss in Columbus, Ohio in December.
But more importantly, Bradley said, was to get back to winning after a surprising 2-1 season opening loss at Boston College which dropped the Red Storm from No. 3 in the national rankings to No. 15.
A little revenge, but not much, he said. We beat them last year in their tournament and they got us where it counted but it was great. We left our mark without a doubt on the country now. We had a fault in the beginning, but now we got it together and were ready to go.
Wingert, who was booked 58 seconds into the match for grabbing Indiana All-American Pat Noonan from potentially a good scoring chance, put No. 15 St. Johns (2-1) ahead 1-0 just 2:23 into the game.
Timothy ONeill hit a low corner kick and Wingert, who made a near post run, struck the ball from 10 yards out. Indiana keeper Jay Nolly got a piece of the ball, but it rolled inside the near post.
Inspired by Irish international Robbie Keanes post-goal celebrations at the World Cup, Wingert ran toward the Indiana bench, bent down on one knee and made a bow and arrow motion with his arms.
Less than two minutes later Bradley put the Red Storm ahead by two after a seemingly harmless throw in by ONeill. The ball bounced over an Indiana defender and in front of the goal where Bradley stood, unmarked.
Surprisingly Nolly didnt come off his line to challenge the ball and Bradley timed his jump and headed the ball under the crossbar to give St. Johns a 2-0 lead just 4:24 into the game.
We work a lot on set pieces; its something coach Masur emphasizes throughout every game, before games, said Bradley, who returned to the lineup after redshirting last year with a knee injury. We always make sure we dominate both ends in the box, offensively and defensively.
Despite trailing by two goals, No. 4 Indiana (1-1-2) actually outplayed St. Johns for the rest of the first half but led by Wingert, the Red Storm defense stifled the Hoosiers potent attack.
Indianas best chance came in the 13th minute when Pat Noonan, who scored the game-winner in a 2-1 win over William and Mary Friday night, dished to Ryan Mack whose blast from 15 yards out was pushed aside by Red Storm keeper Billy Gaudette. The junior keeper who is also back from injury last year, made three saves for his second consecutive shutout.
The Red Storm picked up their play in the second half and, despite the two goal lead, attacked Indiana. The result was a third goal in the 78th minute as Angel Rodriguez scored from 30 yards out on a low hard direct free kick that seemed to catch Nolly by surprise.
Were still struggling in the offensive area, making good decisions on the ball, passing well consistently but in the second half I thought we did much better, said St. Johns coach Dave Masur. I thought at times we took the game to them even though we were up 2-0 and had some other chances to really put the game away.
St. Johns 1, Florida International 0. Alberto Duenas netted the game-winner in the 34th minute Friday night when he ran onto a loose ball and blasted it low and past FIU keeper Roy Rosenberg from 32 yards out.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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