St. John's had one of the most impressive performances of the first weekend of the men's season.
The perennial national power was hit hard by defections during the offseason - New Zealand international Steven Old turned pro and signed with Australia's Newcastle Jets, and four other starters with remaining college eligibility transferred -- and entered the season unranked in the
Soccer America Men's Top 25.
Only two full-time starters - goalie Jason Landers and defender Georgios Spanos - returned and were in the lineup when the Red Storm opened with a 2-0 victory at Michigan on Friday.
SwedePatrik Engstrom, who started 12 games in 2005 and was shifted from the back line to the midfield to help boost the St. John's attack, gave the Red Storm the lead against the Wolverines, and junior Jeff Stepan scored his first career goal in the second half. Two days later, the Red Storm won again in Michigan, beating Mid-Continent favorite Oakland, 1-0. Former U.S. U-17 winger Ryan Soroka scored on the diving header in the first minute.
If St. John's can continue to get early leads, it will be tough with 6-foot-7 Landers manning the goal and Spanos patrolling the backline.
- ST. JOHN'S 2006
- CLASS BREAKDOWN: 5 freshmen, 3 seniors, 2 juniors, 1 sophomores (starters vs. Michigan, 8/25).
- GEOGRAPHIC MAKEUP: New York (2), Pennsylvania (2), Sweden (2), California (1), Georgia (1), Massachusetts (1), New Jersey (1), Texas (1).