There is no doubt in Rich Bradleys mind that the Connecticut mens soccer team will be thinking about revenge when it makes the two-and-a-half hour bus trip south for its clash with the Red Storm Friday at 8 p.m.
The St. Johns senior midfielder is sure many of the Husky players remember that the Red Storm beat them on their own field for the Big East title last year and want nothing more than to hand the Red Storm its first loss at Belson Stadium.
They were really hurt. If [there] was anyone who they didnt want to lose [the tournament championship to], its us, Bradley said. They definitely want to pay us back and, if anything, make sure that we dont win the regular season and we dont win the Big East tournament.
The game is the premier match of the St. Johns Classic, which also features local teams Long Island University and Adelphi, which open the tournament Friday at 6 p.m.
Both teams are coming into the tournament off disappointing results. No. 2 St. Johns (10-1-3, 6-1-1) tied unranked Syracuse, 1-1, Saturday, while ninth-ranked UConn (10-3, 5-2) gave up three second-half goals in a 3-1 loss at Notre Dame Sunday.
The loss to Notre Dame doesnt please us, but you dont need any extra motivation for a St. Johns/UConn game, coach Ray Reid said. Dave [Masur] does a great job, theyre a great program and we have to make sure were ready for them.
A win over the Huskies, who also play an attacking style and love to pressure the ball like the Red Storm, can all but clinch the Big East regular season title for St. Johns, which is 3-0-1 at home since the opening of Belson Stadium.
To me it boils down to Ray Reid and Dave Masur, two of the best coaches in the country, said St. Johns junior defender Chris Wingert. Weve both been lucky enough to be at the top the last few years. Our styles kind of conflict a little bit, the way we play. That causes for a good game. Since Ive been here, every game has a one-goal game or less, and every games a battle. Its become a big rivalry for us.
UConn is led offensively by senior Damani Ralph, one of the top strikers in the country. Ralph leads the Huskies with 11 goals, including five game-winners. Cesar Cuellar (nine goals, three assists for 21 points), Anthony Curtis (six assists) and Leandro de Oliveira (three goals, two assists for eight points) are also dangerous in the attacking third.
Defensively, the Huskies are led by sophomore Shavar Thomas and freshman keeper Adam Schuerman (0.85 goals against average).
When you play UConn its more of a chess match, youre trying to read the play more, read the game, trying to break the other team down more, said St. Johns senior defender Pat Lonergan. Every year Ive played them its been a huge game, probably one of the biggest games of the year for us. We always get up for each other; its going to be a good one.
The series is tied at 8-8-1 with Connecticut owning a 4-11 edge since Reid took over for Joseph Marrone six years ago. UConn faces Adelphi at 6 p.m. Saturday, while St. Johns takes on LIU Saturday at 8 p.m. in the tournament finale.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2002 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.