Men's Soccer outguns St. John's
Allen tallies goal, assist in 2-0 home win
The Virginia men’s soccer team looked to be in for a rough night when sophomore forward Brian James whiffed on an attempted cross in the early minutes of Monday night’s game against St. John’s. The crowd’s frustrations grew when the Cavaliers sent a corner kick flying into the Red Storm penalty area — where no Virginia player was able to make contact with the ball. And later, sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Gal bent to pick up a slow-rolling ball but made contact just outside the penalty box, resulting in a St. John’s free kick.
The No. 20 Cavaliers (1-1-0), however, put the kibosh on that decidedly sloppy start, emerging from their slumber to post a 2-0 victory against the No. 19 Red Storm in their second game of the season. The win against St. John’s, an opponent who beat No. 2 Maryland in the preseason, gives the Cavaliers positive momentum following Friday night’s 2-1 loss to No. 10 Louisville.
“That’s the nice thing about this game is, three days later, [we] get back on the horse quick, instead of waiting a week,” Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. “St. John’s is a playoff team. There’s no question about it — they are a playoff team. It’s a great win, and I think it’ll mean something in the RPI later, which is why we scheduled the game in the first place. But it also gives us just a little confidence and momentum going into the ACC.”
Virginia received an injection of energy from sophomore forward Darius Madison, who, upon entering the game late in the first half, pressured the St. John’s defense with sprinting challenges in situations the Red Storm (1-1-0) had previously spent lingering with the ball.
Of all the players on the field at Klöckner Stadium, though, freshman forward Jordan Allen made the most definitive impact on Monday night’s contest. Allen, a highly touted recruit playing in only the second game of his collegiate career, set up James’ first-half goal and scored one of his own late in the second.
“You saw a little emergence, I think, today,” Gelnovatch said. “[Allen has] had flashes … He consistently was a handful today. He caused a PK, he got the second goal for us and he’s getting better and better each week. So, by the time the season ends, I hope he’s gotten 12 goals.”
Allen’s assist came when he sent the ball into the middle of the penalty box, where James reached it before the Red Storm defense and comfortably shot past redshirt senior Rafael Diaz, the Preseason Big East Goalkeeper of the Year. His goal came when he intercepted a slow-rolling, cross-field pass from one Red Storm defender to another, beating everyone to the ball and pushing it into the St. John’s backfield, where he unleashed a left-footed drive Diaz could not deflect.
“[The goal] kind of came out of nowhere, actually,” Allen said. “They misplaced the pass in the back. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should jump it or if I should just hold back. I made the decision to jump it, and I just went at them, and luckily my finish was good enough to go in.”
Allen created yet another scoring opportunity for the Cavaliers just after halftime. Dribbling the ball, he spun into the penalty box and forced the wrong-footed Red Storm defender to foul. Diaz dove to his right to stop sophomore midfielder Todd Wharton’s penalty kick.
“It was kind of just instinctual, just moving off of where they were,” Allen said of the spin.
After the opening minutes, Virginia consistently controlled play. The majority of the game was conducted in St. John’s defensive half, with the Cavaliers edging the Red Storm in shots, 7-5, and corner kicks, 7-4, while committing nine fouls to St. John’s 19. Gal saved St. John’s only shot on goal.
The Cavaliers inserted junior midfielder Eric Bird and freshman midfielder Riggs Lennon into the starting lineup, with freshman midfielder Nicko Corriveau coming off the bench. Redshirt junior midfielder Bryan Lima made his first appearance of the season when he subbed in for Madison late in the first half, and freshman midfielder Patrick Foss played in limited minutes for the second game in a row.
“We were disappointed not to get a good result against Louisville, but this is definitely a step in the right direction, so, gotta keep it up,” Allen said.
The squad will next face Clemson at 8 p.m. on Friday in South Carolina.