March 22, 2014
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – The St. John’s lacrosse team won its third consecutive game and second in the span of five days on Saturday afternoon, staging a furious fourth-quarter comeback to top Long Island rival Stony Brook, 13-11, in non-conference play from Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The Red Storm improves to 5-3 (1-0 BIG EAST) on the campaign after clinching its first road victory while the Seawolves drop to 4-5.
Trailing 11-8 entering the fourth quarter, St. John’s outscored Stony Brook, 5-0, in the final 15 minutes to improve to 3-4 all-time in the series and run its current winning streak to three games, a season high. The Red Storm outshot its host, 17-0, in the final period and, after struggling to find its rhythm at the faceoff “X” through three quarters, won 4-of-5 restarts in the fourth quarter to give itself the necessary possession to complete the comeback.
Saturday’s victory over the Seawolves secures the program’s first-ever season sweep of long island foes Stony Brook and Hofstra, with the Red Storm claiming an 11-10 overtime victory over the Pride on Tuesday at DaSilva Field.
“We had to take a step back and realize why we were behind,” said St. John’s head coach Jason Miller. “Five of their first six goals were on the extra-man. Give them credit, they sliced us up on the man-up, but when we got into defensive possession and didn’t foul we were getting stops. We battled back in a great way at the faceoff ‘X’ in the fourth quarter and we needed that. When we got possessions and we got the ball to our offense we were scoring. The question was if we were going to get it enough to come from behind and dig ourselves out of a hole, and we did that.”
The senior attacking trio of Kieran McArdle, Colin Keegan and Kevin Cernuto accounted for all 13 of St. John’s goals on Saturday. McArdle – who on Tuesday became the program’s all-time points leader in addition to scoring the overtime winner – tallied eight points on six goals and two assists for the second consecutive game to overtake Chris Johnston as St. John’s career goals leader with 110. Keegan, meanwhile, scored a season-high four goals and Cernuto netted his fourth hat trick of the season. Classmate Ryan Fitzgerald added a career-high three assists for the Red Storm and 14 different players collected at least one groundball to add to St. John’s cause.
The Red Storm won the contest’s initial faceoff and wasted no time in opening the scoring, with McArdle assisting Keegan less than two minutes into the game. St. John’s took a 2-0 lead shortly thereafter as McArdle scored on a fine solo effort, his 20th goal of the campaign and a warning of things to come.
Stony Brook responded, however, tying the score at 2-all heading to the second quarter before outscoring the Red Storm, 6-3, in the next 15 minutes to take an 8-5 advantage into halftime. Cernuto scored two of his three goals in the second stanza, which saw the Seawolves go 3-for-3 in extra-man opportunities after cashing in on both of its man-up situations in the opening quarter.
Not for the last time, St. John’s clawed its way back early in the third quarter, scoring three unanswered goals to tie the game at 8-all. McArdle accounted for two of the three goals on unassisted efforts and Keegan registered the third on a feed by Fitzgerald. From there, the Seawolves regained momentum one final time, scoring three consecutive times in the remaining 3:54 of the third quarter to lead 11-8 headed to the final 15 minutes of play.
The duo of Keegan and Fitzgerald served to kick start the Red Storm’s fourth-quarter comeback bid, as the latter assisted the former just 27 seconds into the period to bring St. John’s within two at 11-9. McArdle – who is now just three assists away from holding the all-time program records for points, goals and assists in a career – took over from there, with a little help from line partner Cernuto. McArdle bullied his way to the goal and scored on an unassisted effort with 13:35 remaining to pull the Red Storm within one at 11-10, and, following a long period of sustained pressure by the visitors, tied the game at 11-all on another solo score with 4:17 on the clock. St. John’s comeback was complete when Cernuto found the back of the net on a trademark diving shot with 3:07 remaining to give the Red Storm its first lead since the first quarter at 12-11, and McArdle added an unassisted insurance goal 33 seconds later.
St. John’s let loose on a season-high 50 shots on Saturday and committed a season-low three turnovers while causing 15, six in the fourth quarter alone. The Red Storm finished 12-of-13 on the clear and won 11-of-27 faceoffs overall, with junior Mario Carrera going 11-for-24 with a team-high five groundballs.
Stony Brook edged the groundball battle, 33-31, and got four points from Chris Hughes.
St. John’s returns to BIG EAST play on Saturday, March 29, when the Red Storm travels to Providence for a 6 p.m. clash that will air live on FOX Sports 1.