P.J.'s Picks - Men's Soccer Week 5
My pick for this week, since conference play is beginning, is a Big East conference match against NSCAA ranked No. 4 and Madness ranked No. 1 UConn versus No. 10/11 St. John’s. UConn’s record stands at 5-0-1 with a match against unranked Boston College prior to their first conference match against St. John’s (5-0-3).
When the two teams finally get together on Saturday it will be a defensive showdown for sure. Both St. John’s and UConn have well built and stout defensive teams that have recorded multiple shut-outs already for the season, the Huskies with four and the Red Storm with three. Both teams have top-notch keepers guarding the net, Andre Blake for UConn and Rafael Diaz for St. John’s. The only difference in the teams is the defensive front line. The Huskie’s defensive front shows to be a little more tight knit, allowing only 16 shots on goal against Blake versus the Red Storm’s defense that has allowed 36 shots against Diaz. Andre Blake, a Hermann trophy hopeful, hasn’t had to work as hard as Diaz, making 14 saves compared to his rival’s 31. Even though Diaz has worked a little harder, he has still proven he is stellar in goal, only allowing four goals. Blake hasn’t let much go by either, allowing only two goals in all six games of the season thus far.
Although this will more than likely be a defensive battle, both teams have stellar offenses as well. Looking at the stats, they match up almost perfectly even with St. John’s having played two more games on the season. UConn and St. John’s are both fairly consistent when it comes to scoring, netting the same number of goals in both the first and second half. The Huskies have recorded 12 goals total, five in the first and second half and two in overtime, while the Red Storm has put seven in the net both halves and none in OT. Most of the offensive stats for the teams look the same and they both have multiple players that can make goals. However, the Red Storm are at a little more of an advantage offensively due to having eight offensive players that have put the ball in the goal versus the Huskies with only five, one of which being a defender. Defender, Max Wasserman, has contributed two goals for the Huskies. Forward Mamadou Diouf leads UConn with four goals followed by fellow forwards Allando Matheson (3), Carlos Alvarez (2), and Stephane Diop (1). St. Johns leading scorer is midfielder Jack Bennett (3), then forwards Andres Vargas, Jelani Williams, and midfielders Nick Matthews and Daniel Herrera have all put two in the net. Jimmy Mulligan, Danny Bedoya, and Juan Aguiar have contributed one goal each for the Red Storm as well.
No doubt both teams have dominated both sides of the ball against their opponents in previous matches but I still think this will come down to the defense and who can hold off their tough opposing offense. Even with St. John’s offense showing to be a little more variable with who can score, I still feel that the Huskies defense will hold the Red Storm at bay and when the last whistle blows, UConn will be on top.