By Cam Smith ’21
The wind was whipping as the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team took on St. John’s University in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament last Saturday November 3 on Chapey Field. Fans braved the unrelenting gusts to watch the Friars defeat the Red Storm by a score of 1-0.
Matt DePerro ’21RS scored the lone goal of the contest, tapping the ball into the net at the 15-minute mark after a header from midfielder Kevin Vang ’22 found DePerro sitting at the right post. The goal did not come without some controversy, as it was originally called back due to the assistant referee calling DePerro offsides. A discussion with the center referee caused the decision to be reversed, as a St. John’s player had slid out of bounds to situate himself firmly behind DePerro. After the dust cleared, both Vang and midfielder Brendan Constantine ‘19 were credited with assists.
The dominant Friar defense was the story of the night, as PC notched its ninth shutout of the season. The defensive unit has been strong all year long, allowing the third fewest goals in the Big East. Joao Serrano ‘20RS, along with Tristan Stowell ’21RS, Malcolm Duncan ’21, and f Ramzi Qawasmy ’22 have spearheaded a resurgent backline that struggled for much of the 2017 season.
On Saturday, the compact back four left little space in the final third for the Johnnies to operate, as the Friars prevented any semblance of link-up play. The visiting squad only registered five shots on the night, and star keeper Colin Miller ‘19RS made a tremendous save on the one ball that found its way to the post. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Friars had closed out the Big East regular season with two consecutive 1-0 wins over St. John’s and Villanova University. These two matches saw PC solidify their 6-2-1 conference record, a record good enough to clinch the third seed in the Big East Tournament.
Saturday’s playoff victory was a welcome development for a Friar team that suffered an uncharacteristic loss in the quarterfinal just a year ago to Xavier University. After the game, the boys in black and white had their sights set on a much loftier goal: the Big East crown and a potential College Cup berth.
Next up for PC in their quest for Big East supremacy: the number two seeded Georgetown University Hoyas. The two Big East powerhouses battled in the nation’s capital on Wednesday November 3 in the conference semifinals.
Weather played a factor in the game, as torrential downpours in the D.C. area made it a muddy affair on Georgetown’s grass field.
The Hoyas dominated possession in the first half, as the Friars seemed to have a hard time adjusting to the size of Shaw Field. Georgetown was able to switch the ball several times on offense, spreading out a Friar defense that had remained so compact on Saturday. The lack of possession for PC led to few offensive chances, as the team did not register a shot on net in the first half. Georgetown’s Kyle Zajec scored the lone goal of the half on a penalty kick after the ball bounced off of Klisman Sousa ‘19RS’s hand in the box.
The second half began on a good note for the Friars as they began to string together some chances, but their momentum was halted when Georgetown scored their second goal of the game with 30 minutes remaining in the half. Hoya forward Riley Strassner finished his own rebound after an unlucky bounce off of Miller’s save. The Friars never quite found their footing after that, and a Gil Santos ’22 red card with 20 minutes remaining in the half put the Friars down a man as they tried to claw their way back into the game. Georgetown would go on to add two additional goals, securing a 4-0 victory and a spot in the Big East championship.
PC ended their season with a 10-7-2 record. The Friars now look ahead to next year as a batch of exciting players return to build on a solid season.