In a Labor Day battle of New York City’s two men’s college soccer powerhouses, St. John’s scored a hard-fought 1-0 win over the visiting Fordham Rams in a non-conference meeting at Belson Stadium.
Sophomore Andrew Bennett (Broxbourne, UK) finished a perfectly placed pass from Graduate defender Lucas Bartlett (Overland Park, KS) in the 11th minute that proved to be the only goal of the game, enough to claim victory over the defending Atlantic-10 champions.
“I thought we were very resilient tonight to hold on for a win against a very good Fordham side,” said Red Storm head coach, Dr. Dave Masur. “They’re a well-coached team, with a lot of set pieces, crosses into the box, and long balls, but Luka played great in goal and our defense held tough to get the shutout.”
Redshirt Junior Luka Gavin (Hamilton, ONT) made impressive saves in the air throughout the game to realize his second career shutout, with key stops coming in the 20th and 33rd minutes, before he snatched the ball out of the air with one hand off a deflection in the 55th.
“Hopefully we can carry that momentum into another big couple of games against BU and Columbia,” Masur added.
Monday’s match proved to be a somber homecoming for Fordham head coach Carlo Acquista. A Whitestone native, Acquista played on the 1996 National Championship team and two Big East Championship squads with the Red Storm.
Acquista was one of the one of the youngest NCAA Division One head coaches in the country when he took the head coaching job at St. Francis College of Brooklyn in 2002. He moved onto Adelphi University, where he posted a 120-69-19 record for a .623 winning percentage. Prior to arriving at Fordham in 2019, he worked as a scout with the New York Red Bulls organization for one year. With the Red Bulls, he evaluated college and professional matches globally in a year where the MLS club captured the Supporter’s Shield, the annual award given to the Major League Soccer team with the best regular season record, as determined by the MLS points system.
His family owns an Italian eatery, Trattoria Acquista, just across Utopia Parkway from his alma mater. “Any time I go back to St. John’s it’s a great time. I spent about five years there and when we opened up the restaurant we felt like we were an extension of the St. John’s family,” Acquista said. “It was a great night to be there coaching against my mentor but unfortunately the result didn’t go our way.”
Fordham, who will play all but one of their first eight games on the road, fell to 0-3-1, including a loss to #5 Georgetown. “After they scored that great goal, we felt like we were comfortable and had some great chances,” Acquista said. “Their goalkeeper was big-time!”
St. John’s evened their season record to 2-2-0 on Monday, after a seventh-minute penalty kick proved to be the difference-maker for Marist College on Saturday night at Belson in front of 1,187 fans.
St. John’s will play again on Friday night against Boston University with a 7 p.m. kick-off. The match will be broadcast on FloSports.