Bearcats Travel to No. 23 St. John's for Key BIG EAST Matchup

Sept. 29, 2006

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       The University of Cincinnati men's soccer team, which leads the BIG EAST Red Division, will head to New York City for a key conference clash with No. 23 St. John's on Saturday night at Belson Stadium.  The Bearcats and Red Storm will kick off at 7:30 p.m.  St. John's and USF, both picked to finish ahead of Cincinnati in the preseason BIG EAST poll, are one point behind the Bearcats heading into the weekend.



    • The Bearcats are 7-3-1 overall and lead the BIG EAST Red Division with a 4-2-0 mark.  UC is riding a school-record five-match winning streak after defeating rival Louisville, 3-0, on Wednesday night at Gettler Stadium. 

    • UC has outscored its opponents, 14-3, during its five-match winning streak and has outshot its foes, 103-48.

    • After scoring just five goals in its first six matches, UC has nearly tripled that total (14) in its last  five.

    Noah Davidson has scored three goals, including the game-winners against No. 12 Notre Dame on Sept. 17 and Louisville on Sept. 27, and added two assists over the last four matches.

    Omar Cummings has recorded a point in five of his last six matches after assisting on all three goals against Louisville on Sept. 27.

    • Goalkeeper Mike Vessells posted his fourth shutout of the season against Louisville and moved into third on UC's all-time list with his 12th career clean sheet.  He lowered his goals against average to 1.12 on the season.

    • 13 different Bearcats have recorded points for UC this season.

    • UC was picked to finish third in the  Red Division in the BIG EAST preseason coaches poll.

    • Cummings was named the Preseason BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year as well as preseason All-BIG EAST and College Soccer News Preseason All-American.

    • The UC 2006 recruiting class was ranked No. 38 nationally by College Soccer News.

    • Head coach Hylton Dayes is in his sixth season at the helm of the Bearcats, holding a 51-40-17 mark.



       No. 23 St. John's, one of the nation's premier soccer programs, enters the match with a 6-2-2 overall mark and a 3-1-2 ledger in conference play after a 1-1 draw against Syracuse on Wednesday night.  The Red Storm is unbeaten in its last five matches, but has scored just three goals in its last four.

       Freshman Ryan Soroka leads the Red Storm with five assists and 11 points, while Jeff Stepan is the leading goal scorer for St. John's with four markers.  Jason Landers, the Preseason BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year, holds a 0.80 goals against average, third in the league, and has recorded a league-high five shutouts this season.  Well renowned as a defensively stout team, St. John's has allowed just eight goals in 10 matches this season, shutting out six opponents. 

       Head coach Dave Masur is in his 16th season as head coach at St. John's, owning a 235-67-45 mark during his tenure.  He has guided the Red Storm to one national championship, two finals appearances, and 14 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  Entering the season, Masur held the third-highest career winning percentage (.735) of any coach in Division I soccer.



       The UC-St. John's series history is a short one, but a memorable one.  The Bearcats and Red Storm have played just once, on Oct. 8, 2005, at Gettler Stadium.  Ranked No. 17 nationally, UC was riding a school-record seven-match unbeaten streak, when the Red Storm, ranked No. 3 in the country, entered Gettler Stadium.  Defender Brad Simpson was sent off in the sixth minute of the match after taking down Hermann Trophy candidate Matt Groenwald as the last defender back in a breakaway situation.  UC was forced to play a man down for almost 85 minutes.  St. John's scored in the 62nd minute and UC had a few chances to equalize, but was unsuccessful and fell, 1-0.  It was the sixth consecutive shutout for the St. John's defense and just the second time all season that the Bearcats had been shutout.



       Omar Cummings has done nothing to hurt his preseason hype.  With four goals and eight assists, he leads a UC offense that is clicking right now.  Cummings has recorded a point in five of his last six matches, scoring a pair of goals and adding eight assists during that stretch.  He currently leads the BIG EAST in assists (8) and ranks third in points (16).  The Preseason BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and College Soccer News Preseason All-American is the catalyst for a UC offense that leads the conference in assists and has scored 14 goals during its five-match winning streak.



       Senior goalkeeper Mike Vessells continues his ascent up the career shutouts list at UC.  With three clean sheets this season, Vessells now has 12 career shutouts, which is good for third on the career list.  He has not allowed a goal in his last 237:02 and has let just two shots by him in the last 437:50.  Taking away the 6-0 loss against No. 2 SMU earlier this season, Vessells' goals against average would be 0.67, which would lead the BIG EAST by over 0.10. 



        UC has won a school-record five straight after its 3-0 win against Louisville on Wednesday night.  In each of the last three years, UC has strung together unbeaten streaks of at least six matches, twice (2003, 2005) reaching  school-record seven match unbeaten streaks.



       The Bearcats are 6-0-0 when playing in the friendly confines of Gettler Stadium this season.  UC has outscored its opponents, 16-3, in those six contests.  Conversely, away from Gettler, the Bearcats are just 1-3-1 and have been outscored, 11-3.  Since 2004, the Bearcats are 15-6-2 at Gettler Stadium.


    UP NEXT:

       The Bearcats return home to take on another BIG EAST rival, USF, on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.  The Bulls were the preseason favorites to win the BIG EAST Red Division after greabbing the division title last season, their first in the league.