The 2014 season will mark Jason Miller's eighth year as head coach of the St. John's lacrosse program. Miller leads a Red Storm team that is coming off back-to-back record breaking seasons. The 2013 campaign was the most successful year in program history as St. John's finished 9-4 (3-3 BIG EAST), posting the most wins since program reinstatement in 2005 and the second-most ever for a lacrosse team at St. John's.
Coach Miller speaking to ESPNU following the victory over then-No. 2 Notre Dame in the 2012 BIG EAST semifinals.
The Red Storm rose to as high as No. 14/10 in 2013 and on March 30 shocked the college lacrosse world by claiming a 12-10 victory over No. 1 ranked Notre Dame at the Irish's own Arlotta Stadium. That win would be one of three against ranked opponents on the year, as St. John's would play the role of "giant killers" throughout the season by also downing No. 7/6 Hofstra on March 19 and claiming an early season victory over No. 17/20 Yale on Feb. 23.
The 2013 edition of the Red Storm became the first St. John's lacrosse team to beat Yale, as St. John's got the winning goal in the final minute of play to claim its first home victory of the year and set the tone for the rest of the season. The win over the Bulldogs was the Red Storm's first triumph over a ranked opponent at DaSilva Memorial Field since an upset of No. 5 Georgetown on Feb. 28, 2009.
Next came the home upset of Hostra, as St. John's built a 3-0 first quarter lead before holding off its local rival to notch its first win over the Pride since lacrosse returned to Queens and the first in the match-up at DaSilva Memorial Field in six contests.
The highlight of the 2013 campaign was undoubtedly the unseating of national No. 1 Notre Dame, however, as the Red Storm posted its third victory over a ranked opponent on the season and first-ever over a top-ranked team. The win over the Fighting Irish overtook the 8-7 victory over then-No. 2 Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on May 3, 2012 at Vilanova Stadium for the highest victory over a ranked team in St. John's history. St. John's was able to dictate the tempo of play as the 12th-ranked Red Storm's offense got the better of the fifth-ranked Irish defense with 12 goals. The Johnnies became the first team since Syracuse on May 1, 2010 to score 12 or more goals at Notre Dame.
In all, Miller's Red Storm scored 10 or more goals in 11 of its 14 games in 2013, acting as true road warriors with a perfect 4-0 record as the away team along with posting a 4-2 mark at DaSilva Memorial Field.
Coach Miller on the sidelines for the first-ever BIG EAST Lacrosse Championship against Syracuse in 2012.
Many of Miller's players received personal accolades for their stellar 2013 performances, most notably junior attackman Kieran McArdle, who rewrote the St. John's record books in a campaign which saw him named a Tewaaraton National Player of the Year nominee. Under the tutelage of Dan Paccione, the Red Storm's offensive coordinator who coaches St. John's attackmen, McArdle tallied 36 goals and 49 assists to become the school record-holder in assists and points in a season. The junior also became the first St. John's player to be named BIG EAST Attack Player of the Year and, three weeks later, was named a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) second team All-American, the highest individual honor ever bestowed on a lacrosse player in school history.
Operating within Paccione's high octane offense, McArdle became the first player to ever capture the BIG EAST Conference "triple crown" as he led the league in points, goals and assists, finishing 32 points ahead of the next-highest contender. The junior was a unanimous conference first team selection and received BIG EAST Weekly honors six times in 2013, with a pair of Offensive Player of the Week awards along with four Honor Roll selections. McArdle's record-breaking junior campaign also registered on the national level. The Ronkonkoma, N.Y., native finished the regular season ranked second in the NCAA for points per game (6.54) and assists per game (3.77).
Another attackman that thrived under Miller and Paccione's guidance in 2013 was junior Kevin Cernuto, who tallied 32 goals and 16 assists to solidify one of the nation's top attack units. With 3.69 points per game, Cernuto trailed only teammate McArdle in the BIG EAST to give St. John's the league's top two scorers.Cernuto was rewarded for his stellar season by being named a unanimous conference first team selection and garnering a pair of BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week awards in 2013, including one after a four goal-three assist performance in the Red Storm's upset of then-No. 1 Notre Dame.
Rounding out St. John's all-conference selections in 2013 were seniors Jeff Lowman and Dillon Ayers. A long stick midfielder and the Red Storm's captain, Ayers totaled 50 groundballs and four assists in his final season, increasing his career total to 220 groundballs in moving up to seventh on St. John's all-time list. Lowman, St. John's all-time saves leader, finished the 2013 regular season with a 9-2 record, which was the highest winning percentage of any goalie with at least two starts in the BIG EAST. The senior finished second in the BIG EAST at 12.75 saves per game and posted a career-high 19 saves in the Red Storm's upset of Hofstra.
Coach Miller has also overseen a program in recent years that has excelled academically in addition to its athletic successes. In both 2013 and 2012, the BIG EAST Conference recognized the St. John's lacrosse team with a Team Academic Excellence Award, given yearly to the team that posts the highest collective grade-point average in its respective conference sport. Over the last two years, the team's cumulative 3.13 (2013) and 3.14 (2012) GPA ranked the highest of all seven BIG EAST member schools. The Red Storm also placed 18 student-athletes on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team for 2012-13 after having 20 selections in 2011-12. In 2013, Jeff Lowman was one of 24 recipients of the 2012-13 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards, which are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST-sponsored sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community.
Having coached seven full seasons for St. John's, Miller is now tied with Villanova's Michael Corrado as the longest tenured coaches in the BIG EAST.
Coach Miller taking questions with Jeff Lowman at the 2012 BIG EAST Championship postgame press conference.
The 2012 was also a memorable one for Miller and the Red Storm, as St. John's finished 8-7 (3-3 BIG EAST) and advanced to the inaugural BIG EAST Championship against three-time conference champion Syracuse after defeating then-No. 2 Notre Dame in the semifinals two days prior.
At the time, the eight wins in 2012 was the highest total for the Red Storm since the program was reinstated in 2005. The Red Storm also finished the 2012 campaign ranked No. 20 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll marking the first time in program history that St. John's concluded the season ranked inside the top-20. Coach Miller also led the Red Storm to victories over two ranked teams (No. 20 Georgetown and No. 2 Notre Dame) during the 2012 season.
The 2012 edition of the Red Storm became the first St. John's lacrosse team to win at Georgetown with a 13-12 overtime victory over the Hoyas. Trailing 12-10 with 50 seconds to play and Georgetown holding possession, the Red Storm rallied with two goals from Ryan Fitzgerald and Harry Kutner to force the extra period. Fitzgerald would connect once again in overtime to give the Red Storm a landmark victory that proved essential in qualifying for the first-ever BIG EAST lacrosse tournament.
As dramatic as the Georgetown victory was, it was the win over then-No. 2 Notre Dame in the BIG EAST semifinals that helped St. John's gain the attention of the national lacrosse community. In a nationally televised game on ESPNU, the Red Storm toppled the eventual national semifinalist, Fighting Irish, 8-7. Kieran McArdle led the team offensively with three goals and four assists on the afternoon and goalie Jeff Lowman stopped 13 shots.
In 2011, Miller led the Red Storm lacrosse team through a rigorous BIG EAST and non-conference schedule to a 4-10 final record. St. John's took on six ranked programs during the year, which included eventual NCAA tournament quarterfinalists Syracuse and Notre Dame. The season was highlighted by a thrilling 9-8 victory over local, BIG EAST rival Rutgers at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic held at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Sophomore goalie Jeff Lowman finished second in the nation with an average of 12.64 saves per game.
The 2010 season marked the Red Storm's first in the newly formed BIG EAST lacrosse conference. St. John's finished 5-9 overall against a schedule that featured four NCAA tournament teams and the national runner-up in Notre Dame. The Red Storm defeated Rutgers for the team's first BIG EAST victory and senior Tom Manes was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week for his four-goal, one-assist performance. Senior Gavin Buckley was named one of 10 national finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Although St. John's finished with a 5-9 overall record in 2009, the team opened the season with four straight wins, including a 10-9 upset of the fifth-ranked Georgetown Hoyas. The win marked the first victory over Georgetown in the series history. Senior captain Dom DeNapoli was named All-ECAC First Team and the 2009 NCAA Division I Ground Balls Statistical Champion, as he finished the year with 119 ground balls. DeNapoli became the second St. John's player in as many seasons to be selected to play in the annual USILA North-South Senior All-Star Game.
In his second season at St. John's, Miller's squad once again posted a 2-5 league record, defeating Fairfield and Penn State. Senior Tim LaMare was selected to the ECAC's second team roster as a defenseman and eight players earned a place on the ECAC All-Academic Team, the most of any school in the conference. Once again, the Red Storm man-down defense was ranked as high as fourth nationally, and the Red Storm's face-off win-percentage was rated the sixth-best in the NCAA. The Red Storm experienced many milestones as Michaelsen was the first player in 18 years selected to play in the annual North-South Senior All-Star Game. He was also drafted by teams in both the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse, the only St. John's player to be drafted to either professional league.
In his first year at St. John's, Miller made significant steps in rebuilding the Red Storm lacrosse tradition. On March 31, 2007, Miller led the Red Storm to a 6-4 win over Rutgers, earning the first conference victory for the program since its reinstatement in 2005.
Miller's 5-8 overall record and 2-5 league record as a first-year head coach was a Red Storm lacrosse program-best thus far. Under his tutelage, the Red Storm was ranked as high as sixth in the country in man-down defense with at least seven athletes ranked among the NCAA top 100. With Miller at the helm, St. John's garnered its first ever all-conference honoree in then-junior Tom Michaelsen, an all-ECAC second-team selection.
Miller came to St. John's after spending three seasons as the top assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts lacrosse program. While on the sidelines for the Minutemen, he worked with the defense and face-off units, helping lead the team to its first ever NCAA national title game in 2006. During the NCAA semifinal contest, the UMass defense held Maryland, one of the nation's strongest offensive teams, to just five goals. The Minutemen's road to the national championship game was arguably the toughest in the history of the tournament, as Massachusetts defeated No. 2 Hofstra, No. 3 Cornell and No. 4 Maryland before facing No. 1 Virginia in the final, as an unseeded contender.
Under the tutelage of Miller, two Minutemen earned All-America honors, including Jack Reid, who was a finalist for the Schmeisser Award as the nation's top defenseman. Reid was a first round pick in the Major League Lacrosse Draft in June 2006. He was also the first first team All-America defenseman in UMass history.
Prior to his time at Massachusetts, Miller coached at the United States Military Academy from 2000-03, where he helped lead the Black Knights to a 24-20 record in three seasons. During that stretch, Army won two Patriot League titles and earned a NCAA Tournament berth in 2003 for the first time since 1997. Miller learned under one of the best mentors in the collegiate game's history as he assisted National Lacrosse Hall of Famer, Jack Emmer, the NCAA's all-time win leader with 326 career victories.
Before Army, Miller spent one season as an assistant coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where the Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2000 NCAA Division III tournament.
From 1997-99, Miller served as a graduate assistant at Springfield College in Massachusetts while earning his masters degree in education with a concentration in athletic administration. In 1998, Springfield captured the ECAC Division III championship.
Miller spent the first two years of his coaching career at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., from 1995-97.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Miller played defense on the Springfield College lacrosse team and graduated in 1993 with a degree in sports management.
Miller and his entire family have made a commitment to education. His father, Richard, recently retired as the President of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and his mother, Barbara, is a former English teacher. Miller's wife, Mary, has been a school teacher on Long Island and in Massachusetts. The couple lives in Rockville Centre, N.Y. and has three children, son Liam, daughter Maggie, and daughter, Catherine Grace, whom the couple welcomed to their family in June of 2010.