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NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Preview: St. John’s wary of Indiana



The road to the College Cup goes through Belson Stadium for St. John’s and Indiana, which meet in an NCAA quarterfinal match on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Red Storm is a perfect 11-0 at home this year and 16-4-1 all-time in NCAA tournament games in Queens, N.Y.

But St. John’s coach Dave Masur isn’t ready to admit his team has a distinct home field advantage against the Hoosiers in the Johnnies’ first-ever Elite Eight game on campus.

“The only way it’s special is if you can make it work for you,” Masur said. “It doesn’t become special if you lose. You have to make it work for you and win.”

The third-seeded Red Storm will attempt to book their fourth ticket to the College Cup, which will be played at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex. next weekend. Standing in their way is sixth-seeded Indiana, which defeated SJU in its two previous tournament appearances – in the 2001 semifinals and in the 2003 national championship game.

“Indiana is a very talented team, a very athletic team, very hard working and physical team,” Masur said. “They squeeze the game and put a lot of pressure on their opponents and they always play with an edge.”

In other words, they have a lot of the same attributes that make St. John’s such a difficult team to play against.

“They’ve got some great physical presence and speed at the back which allows them to play a very high line and squeeze the game a bit so we have to be good at trying to find ways to play in front of them and get behind them,” Masur said of the Hoosiers. “There’s going to be very limited space, they close very quickly as a group. We’ve got to be ready to play fast, think fast, move fast.”

After being upset by Michigan State in the Big 10 title game, Indiana (14-6-3) received a first-round bye and then defeated St. Louis (2-0) in the second round and Michigan (3-0) in the third round.

The Hoosiers are led by physical forwards Will Bruin, Kevin Noschang and Neil Wilmarth, technically sound midfielders Brad Ring, John Mellancamp, Eric Alexander and Andy Adlard and athletic back Kevin Alston.

The Red Storm also lost in their conference final, falling to South Florida in overtime, but received a first-round bye. St. John’s defeated Boston University, 1-0, and UC Irvine, 3-2, in the second round.

St. John’s is led by playmaker Nelson Becerra, as well as Brazilian Tadeu Terra, Norwegian Sverre Wegge Gundhus, who has two goals and an assist in the tournament, and Swedish central defender Joel Gustafsson. Goalkeeper Neal Kitson leads the nation with a 0.40 goals against average.

“The closer you get to a Final Four-type of environment, the bigger the fall,” Masur said. “The magnitude grows with every moment.”



(All games Saturday)

  • Wake Forest vs. South Florida (Saturday, 4:30pm)

  • Northwestern vs. North Carolina (Saturday, 2pm)

  • St. John's vs. Indiana (Saturday, 5pm)

  • Maryland vs. Creighton (Saturday, 1pm)

Which game will you be looking forward to? Which players do you think will make the difference on Saturday? Who do you see making the Final Four?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. i have tickets to the college cup and am praying Wake Forest wins this weekend. They are half the reason I bought the tickets. Other than that I would like to see Northwestern, St. Johns, and Maryland win this weekend.

  2. Strongly considering braving the cold tomorrow to take in the St. John’s game. It can’t be any worse than Salt Lake a few weeks ago, right?

  3. I’m looking forward to all four games. I hope the following make the final four: Wake Forest, North Carolina, St. John’s and Maryland but I think any of the four are capable of advancing. Wake Forest seems to be the strongest side and I could see them repeating.


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