ORLANDO, Fla. -- St. John’s (N.Y.) made history on Saturday evening when the Red Storm upset UCF in a 3-1 win for the program’s first NCAA tournament victory. The Red Storm improved to 12-5-3 behind a strong performance by freshman keeper Diana Poulin and goals by Miranda Haraughty and Rachel Daly.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” head coach Ian Stone said. “Our defense was terrific against a strong UCF offense and Diana was outstanding in goal. The entire group showed the amount of heart this team has and they found a way to get it done.”
The Knights (16-3-4), who suffered their first loss in 18 games, came out strong, looking to put pressure on the St. John’s backline and were successful early on. UCF dotted the scoreboard first with a long-range goal by Tatiana Coleman in the 18th minute to put the hosting team up 1-0.
It took the Red Storm just more than a minute to respond and even the game at 1-1 when Haraughty found the back of the net at 18:43 on a cross from Daly. Freshman forward Haraughty's two career goals have come in St. John’s big games with her first being the game winner to send the Red Storm to the Big East semifinals.
St. John’s grabbed a 2-1 lead at 21:11 on an own goal by the Knights when a UCF defender tried to head Amy Marron’s shot out of play but sent the ball over the hands of the goalie. It marked the first time in 682:13 minutes that UCF had trailed an opponent.
The Red Storm entered halftime with a 2-1 advantage despite UCF maintaining possession the majority of the opening half and outshooting St. John’s 11-2.
The second half was paced by the efforts of Poulin (12-4-2), who made six saves in the final 45 minutes against a UCF offense which was 22nd in the nation in scoring offense. The Red Storm keeper was nearly flawless, putting forth one diving save after the next and securing the win for her team.
“Diana was simply fantastic,” Stone said. “For a freshman to have that amount of composure in a NCAA game and against a ranked opponent is unbelievable. It was the best performance I’ve seen from a St. John’s goalkeeper.”
Daly made sure the Knights would be unable to make a late-game comeback when she tallied her NCAA-leading 23rd goal of the season in the 66th minute to give the Red Storm a 3-1 edge. Daly had a game-high three points and now has 50 on the season.
The Red Storm were outshot 26-3, but St. John’s made each attempt count as UCF’s keeper Lianne Maldonado (15-3-3) allowed three goals and had no saves.
St. John’s will face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second round on Friday. The location and time are to be determined.