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St. John’s beats Cincinnati, heads into battle for first in Big East Red Division

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Jelani Williams sees St. John’s three-goal, second-half outburst as exactly what his team is capable of when things are clicking.

“We have the offense to deliver those type of results,” the freshman striker said. “Sometimes it just does fall our way. Tonight I think everything fell right.”

Williams, Jack Bennett and Danny Bedoya all found the back of the net after the break as No. 12/16 St. John’s earned an impressive 3-0 win over Cincinnati in Big East men’s soccer Saturday night at Belson Stadium. It comes after the Red Storm recorded a scoreless tie against Villanova earlier in the week.

“It was a good resilient effort and that’s the way it needs to be,” St. John’s coach Dave Masur said.

The victory snaps the Bearcats (5-5-3, 2-1-7) streak of six straight games without allowing a goal and their two-game winning streak over the Red Storm. St. John’s remains unbeaten at home and has a perfect record when it scores first.

The Red Storm (8-1-4, 2-1-1) got on the board when Jimmy Mulligan sent a pass to Sean Sepe at the top left corner of the box. Sepe was immediately taken down by a Cincinnati defender, which drew a whistle. Senior Bennett deposited the ensuing penalty shot in the right corner to make it 1-0 in the 48th minute.

Andres Vargas later found Williams in the right side of the box. With pinball like quickness, Williams passed to Sepe, who went right back to Williams for a gorgeous give-and-go goal to extend the lead to 2-0 in the 63th minute. Bedoya, the former Francis Lewis star, added an exclamation point in the 86th minute when he beat Cincinnati keeper Taylor Hafling to a ball, knocked it free and headed it home.

“I thought my tip over the goalie was going go far, but it went up and came down and I was there to head it in,” Bedoya said.

St. John’s doesn’t play again until Oct. 13 when the team travels to Louisville. It will be a battle for first place in the Big East Red Division. The Red Storm are currently two points behind the Cardinals.

They head there with a defense, led by Tim Parker and goalie Rafael Diaz, that has allowed just seven goals in 13 games this season. Three of those goals came in the Red Storm’s loss to UConn, their only defeat of the season. Despite the unit’s success, Masur doesn’t want to want to be overly optimistic about this season. .

“We got to make big plays all the time,” Masur said. “We will see ... You have to earn your way there.”

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