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Zach Pekale | NCAA.com | October 24, 2019

Georgetown shuts out St. John's men's soccer: How the Hoyas turned the Red Storm strategy against them

Check out the best men's soccer plays of the week

In a top-10 Big East matchup between No. 4 St. John's and No. 7 Georgetown, the Hoyas depart home as the new leader atop the Big East standings. The Hoyas extend their winning streak to five games and made a case for the top spot in the RPI rankings with the 3-0 victory, while the Red Storm will look to bounce back from their first loss in league play. 

Relive the match with our live updates below.

NEW POLL: St. John's, Georgetown both in Top 10

Throughout the 2019 season, St. John's has received praise for its up-tempo offense. One goal could be the catalyst to numerous others. Georgetown's offensive firepower is strong, albeit a bit more methodical. On Wednesday, it was the Hoyas who pushed the pace and were rewarded with quick-fire goals in a 3-0 win over the Red Storm.

Georgetown peppered Jan Hoffelner with five shots through 20 minutes before Jacob Montes broke a scoreless tie. His 23rd-minute free kick curled past a wall of defenders and the outstretched arms of Hoffelner. A mere 57 seconds later, a Red Storm turnover had the Hoyas countering with numbers. Dylan Nealis was on the the receiving end of a give-and-go, doubling the lead.

A once rambunctious, sellout home crowd had fallen silent at Belson Stadium. The tactical, meticulous offense of Georgetown was out of its element. The team's home, Shaw Field, is grass. St. John's plays on turf, a surface the ball moves quickly on and caters to teams with speed.

Except the Hoyas have speed. Plenty of it.

Georgetown spent the opening minutes diligently maintaining possession. Defensively, it provided pressure high in the midfield to disrupt the pace of the Red Storm, patiently awaiting an opportunity. Those chances came, 14 to be exact with nine on target, first the quick tallies from Montes and Nealis followed by Derek Dodson's point-blank volley to cap the scoring in the 52nd minute.

As for St. John's, its first shot attempt came after halftime. Coming into the game, 22 of its 30 goals were scored following the intermission. But an offense that is typically fluid and lively struggled to create in the midfield, instead looking out out of sync between the initially slowed tempo and Georgetown's quick goals.

The Red Storm registered four shots on goal off of seven attempts. Their most threatening chance in the final minutes when Brandon Duarte connected on a header at the near post but was pushed away by Tomas Romero. The freshman goalkeeper made four saves to give the Hoyas their fifth-consecutive clean sheet.

Wednesday's result is likely to be used as a learning tool for a St. John's team that gets most of its production out of its sophomore class. For Georgetown, it's the Hoyas' reminder to the Big East who the reigning conference champions are.

Georgetown vs. St. John's: Score, live updates

Georgetown 3, St. John's 0 | Final

Jacob Montes and Dylan Nealis scored 57 seconds apart in the first half. Hoyas captain Derek Dodson added a third strike after the intermission and Georgetown blanked St. John's in Queens to take control of the Big East standings.

Georgetown 3, St. John's 0 |83rd minute

Brandon Duarte gives St. John's its best attacking chance of the match with a near-post header in the waning minutes. Romero slams the door with an excellent recovery as he inches closer to another clean sheet.

Georgetown 3, St. John's 0 | 77th minute

St. John's has been able to play deeper into Georgetown's side of the field the past few minutes as the Hoyas drop additional players back to protect the box. The Red Storm have had considerably more space in the second half without the Hoyas' constant pressure.

Georgetown 3, St. John's 0 | 67th minute

Zach Riviere nearly adds to Georgetown's lead after the sophomore got behind the Red Storm defense and played a long ball into the box. He comes up empty-handed after the shot was directed right at Gavran. 

Georgetown 3, St. John's 0 | 52nd minute

Have another, Georgetown. The Hoyas get dangerous position with a corner, their eighth of the evening, and make the Red Storm pay. After a scrum in front of the net, Derek Dodson taps in the loose ball in past Luka Gavran. The captain get his fifth tally of the season.

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | 47th minute

Tomas Romero sees his first shot attempt of the night as Jared Juleau takes a low-driven crack from outside the box. St. John's first shot wasn't all that dangerous, but keep in mind that 22 of the team's 30 goals have been scored in the second half. 

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | Halftime look

  • Goals: Georgetown 2, St. John's 0
  • Shots (on goal): Georgetown 8 (6), St. John's 0 (0)
  • Corners: Georgetown 7, St. John's 2
  • Saves: Georgetown 0, St. John's 4

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | Half

A potent St. John's offense is held without a shot through 45 minutes while Georgetown tallied twice in 57 seconds to quiet a capacity crowd at Belson Stadium.

The Hoyas pressed high to open the game, keeping the Red Storm from establishing their tempo. Instead of a match driven by pace and heavy counters, Georgetown's tactical style has the visitors looking quite comfortable in a hostile road environment.

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | 41st minute

Tani Oluwaseyi created a turnover near midfield but his through pass to Josiah Crawford drew the offsides flag on what would've been a footrace to the keeper. The Hoyas have conceded one first-half goal in 2019, they're minutes away from not allowing a shot in the opening period.

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | 36th minute

Ever since the Hoyas took a 2-0 lead, coach Brian Wiese has made a bevy of substitutions to try and slow down a typically-electric Red Storm attack. The move has paid dividends so far as St. John's is without a shot attempt.

Georgetown 2, St. John's 0 | 24th minute

Early pressure by the Hoyas has paid off in a big way. Jacob Montes and Dylan Nealis strike less than a minute apart and momentum swings to Georgetown with a two-goal lead halfway through the opening period. Montes buried a free kick from just beyond the 18-yard box, ending a shutout streak of 472 minutes for the Red Storm.

St. John's 0, Georgetown 0| 20th minute

Hoffelner continues to work hard in the opening minutes. He's now been tested by Jacob Montes, Dylan Nealis and Sean O'Hearn in the past few trips downfield, keeping the score level on all three occasions. The Hoyas are outshooting St. John's 5-0 with four corners.

St. John's 0, Georgetown 0| 5th minute

Achara provides Georgetown its first few attacking chances but comes up empty. Jan Hoffelner reacted particularly well on the first attempt knock the ball away. 

Pregame — 6:45 p.m.

Belson Stadium hasn't hosted two top-10 teams in 11 years, but that streak comes to an end Wednesday. Georgetown and St. John's vie for pole position in the Big East as the league's two remaining unbeaten teams. The Red Storm last won a regular season conference title in 2008.

St. John's vs. Georgetown: Preview

Prior to the 2019 season, reigning Big East champion Georgetown was selected unanimously by coaches around the league to defend its title. The Hoyas have won the conference tournament in back-to-back years. This season, with an 11-1-1 record, the No. 7 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches and unbeaten record in conference play, a three-peat is not out of the question.

But in order to gain home-field advantage throughout the Big East Tournament, Georgetown must first get by St. John’s. Ahead of Wednesday’s top-10 matchup, the Red Storm (12-1) are atop the league standings, something that likely comes as a surprise to many coaches throughout the conference. 

St. John’s was picked to finish seventh. Yet here they are in first place with four games to play, ranked No. 4 in the poll and competing for the program’s first Big East regular season title since 2008. Coincidentally, September of that year was the last time Belson Field hosted a top-10 match.

Here’s everything you need to know before Wednesday’s showdown.

St. John’s vs. Georgetown: How to watch

St. John’s and Georgetown will kick off from Belson Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. Here’s how to follow the match. 

When: 7:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 23

Where: Belson Stadium | Queens, New York

How to watch: Big East Digital Network 

Series history

Georgetown’s achievements in the Big East includes four NCAA tournament appearances since 2012 and a trio of conference tournament championships in the past four years. The program’s recent success also coincides with balance being established in its all-time history with St. John’s. 

The Hoyas’ 2012 win over the Red Storm was the first of five in the series’ eight most-recent games. Prior to then, St. John’s hadn’t lost to Georgetown since 1999. Overall, St. John’s is 23-9-3 all time against Georgetown with just one loss at home under coach Dave Masur.

2019 matchup

St. John's

Tale of the Tape

Georgetown

4 Ranking 7
12-1-0 Record 11-1-1
Dave Masur, 29th year (367-153-89) Coach Brian Wiese, 14th year (162-80-33)
20 NCAA appearances 9
1 NCAA titles 0
30 Goals For 27
5 Goals Against 5
Tani Oluwaseyi, 19 (8 goals, 3 assists) Leading scorer Derek Dodson, 13 (4 goals, 5 assists)
9 Shutouts 7

Both teams are capable of finding the back of the net. But it’s the unique goalkeeping situations of St. John’s and Georgetown that have the teams vying for pole position in the Big East and is worth following throughout the match.

Red Storm coach Dave Masur employs the strategy of using both of his keepers. In all but one contest of 2019, Jan Hoffelner has started between the posts. The junior plays the first 45 minutes before handing his duties off to Luka Gavran, who is responsible for handling the second half as well as any additional time.

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Georgetown possesses similar goalkeeping depth, though Brian Wiese opts for a different management plan. Underclassmen Giannis Nikopolidis and Tomas Romero split reps, but on a game-to-game basis. Nikopolidis started the team’s last match against Xavier, meaning Romero should be up in the rotation to face St. John’s.

Something to keep in mind is if either team strays from their strategy as it could be an indicator of who plays when the pressure mounts to its highest points. Make no mistake, both coaches have successfully handled this throughout the season as St. John’s and Georgetown come into the match No. 1 and No. 2 in RPI, respectively, in addition to their top-10 ranking.

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