Storm chasers: Blue Demons fall behind early, lose 2-0 to Red Storm

Two first half goals by the visiting Red Storm propelled No. 15/19 St. John’s to a 2-0 win over the men’s soccer team Saturday at Wish Field.

Nick Matthews opened the scoring in the 18th minute after a defense-splitting throughball from Brandon Savino enabled the junior to go 1v1 with Eric Sorby. Matthews out-paced Austin Toth before running onto the ball and putting it into the center of the goal. Sorby’s deflection on the shot wasn’t enough to keep it out as it looped in a foot under the frame for Matthews’ fourth goal of the season.

St. John’s (7-1-3, 1-1) doubled their lead in the 36th minute through Andres Vargas. After being denied by Sorby a number of times in the half, Vargas got the breakthrough from 20 yards out. Savino picked up another assist on the play when Vargas fired to the bottom right corner for his third goal of the campaign.

“It was definitely agame of two halves,” said head coach Craig Blazer. “We were not emotionally engaged in the game. We didn’t show the resemblance of team defending and possession. We didn’t create in the first half. All of those components improved in the second.”

DePaul (3-6-1, 0-2) could have found themselves on the wrong end of a lop-sided score line had it not been for the play of Sorby. The junior from Mundelein, Ill., came up big for the Blue Demons, making seven saves including stopping a penalty.

“Unbelievable in the second half,” Blazer said of Sorby’s performance. “In the first half when you’re not playing well, you expect someone to step up big. That was the best he’s ever played.”

Sorby denied Daniel Herrera from the spot in the 85th minute after a David Selvaggi handball gave the Red Storm an opportunity to treble their lead. Herrera went to his left, but Sorby got two hands on the effort to clear it away.

St. John’s enjoyed lengthy spells of possession in a match that they controlled for large stretches of the game. The Red Storm put up 14 shots – seven of which forced Sorby into saves – and earned seven corners in the game.

Chances for the Blue Demons were hard to come by, and only one of DePaul’s six shots forced Rafael Diaz to make a save.

The defeat for the men’s soccer team — playing their third ranked opponent in as many games — comes following a 2-0 win at No. 18/18 Northwestern in which Antonio Aguilar’s brace handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season.

The emotion put into that match was missing against St. John’s, Blazer said.

“We’re trying to find a way to tap into the emotions,” he said. “We used the example of the Northwestern game – they were willing to do whatever it took [to win]. We showed improvement in the second half today, but breaking down St. John’s was difficult. We can build on the second half to try and eliminate these types of first halves.”

DePaul showed signs of improvement in the second half with Joe Brinckwirth’s effort in the 68th minute being the only shot on target for the Blue Demons. Thiago Ganancio had two good chances in the half, the first being on a Michael Kozielek cross, but he couldn’t get his whole foot through the ball. The other chance came late in the match when he was played through on goal by Aguilar, but his effort was wide of the far post.

“We challenged the guys after Northwestern to use that momentum for St. John’s,” Blazer said. “Discussing it and challenging them are one thing, but actually doing it is another. We need full-game players who are technically sound and tactically aware. We’ve got to get them all on the same page. We can make strides to be more consistent and improve.”

The fixtures don’t get any easier, however, as the team travels to unranked/No. 24 Louisville Wednesday, Oct. 3. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

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