The pace of the game was uneven in the early going as both sides recorded prime scoring chances during some wide-open play in the opening minutes. The match then came to a standstill as the majority of play occurred in the midfield for a span before Johnson netted his GNAC-leading fifth game-winning goal of the year in the 19th minute.
Lancers sophomore forward Alex Wolfel (Unionville, Conn.) was denied with a diving stop by SJC netminder Kenny Grade '14 (Hampton, N.H.) on a point-blank scoring opportunity off a corner at the 1:15 mark. Saint Joseph's countered with a scoring chance just over a minute later when a header by Ross Suleski '14 (Amesbury, Mass.) was blocked inside the box.
Suleski helped the Royal Blue get on the board in the 19th minute when the sophomore found Johnson with a perfect chip pass inside the box. The Monks' leading scorer received the feed and one-timed a header shot beyond the reach of Worcester keeper Evan Wilga '12 (Dudley, Mass.) and into the center of the net to propel the hosts to a 1-0 advantage.
St. Joe's extended the lead off another extraordinary individual effort at the 39:25 mark. Freshman midfielder Ali Hersi (Lewiston, Maine) controlled the ball at the top of the box and dribbled through a handful of Worcester defenders before finding an open Fabrice Iraduha '15 (Portland, Maine), who blasted a kick from the right side to the top left corner just below the crossbar. The tally was the first of Iraduha's collegiate career.
The Monks carried the 2-0 cushion into intermission and held advantages in shots (10-9) and corner kicks (3-2) in the opening frame.
The hosts rattled off six shots in the first five minutes of the second half, but it was the Lancers who recorded the first real scoring chance in the latter stanza when sophomore back Dan Goodine (Dracut, Mass.) booted an attempt on goal that rattled off the crossbar in the 54th minute.
Johnson went on to make it a 3-0 game when he scored his second goal of the contest off a Jose Ossers '15 (Bradford, Mass.) dish at the 65:51 mark. Ossers set up the play with a pass off a short corner and Johnson finished with a kick from the left side of the box into the top left corner of the net. For Johnson, the brace was the first of his NCAA career.
Now leading 3-0, the Monks proceeded to put an exclamation point on the shutout victory when Calvin Servaes '14 (Hull, Mass.) scored on a nifty toe-poke goal over the head of Lancer goalie Emil Dedo '14 (Worcester, Mass.), who entered the game at the start of the second half in relief of Wilga.
In goal, Grade made four saves in what was his third shutout of the season. Dedo posted four stops in the second half while Wilga allowed two goals with one save in the first half for the visitors.
Saint Joseph's held the lead in shots (24-17) and corner kicks (6-4) and was called for 16 fouls in the victory. Worcester State committed 10 fouls on the afternoon.
With the win, the Monks improve to 2-1-1 in the history of the series with the Lancers. St. Joe's tipped WSU by a 1-0 margin in the last meeting between the New England Region sides, which occurred in Worcester on September 9th, 2010.
With three regular-season games remaining the Monks have already topped the goal total tallied by the 2010 side. St. Joe's scored 25 goals in 19 games a year ago and has 26 markers in 13 games this fall. Saint Joseph's has not averaged two goals per game since the 1998 campaign, when the Royal Blue netted 43 tallies in just 16 matches for a stellar 2.7 average.
Both squads will face conference foes on the road this coming Saturday, when Saint Joseph's travels to Lasell College for a 2:30 PM kickoff and Worcester plays at Mass.-Maritime at 12:00 PM.