March 30, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. -
No. 20/19 St. John’s (7-2, 2-1) played the role of giant killer once again as the Red Storm topped No. 1 Notre Dame (6-2, 1-1), 12-10 at Arlotta Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind., for its third victory over a ranked opponent on the season and first-ever over a top-ranked team.
“I’m very proud of our effort today,” said head coach Jason Miller. “We prepared well this week, and it showed on the field. We had a great effort at the faceoff X, on the ride and in groundball battles and the scoreboard reflected that at the end of the game.”
The triumph over the No. 1 Fighting Irish overtook the 8-7 victory over then-No. 2 Notre Dame at the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on May 3, 2012 at Villanova Stadium for the highest victory over a ranked team in St. John’s history. The Red Storm had been 0-2 all-time against No. 1 opponents heading into the matchup with the Fighting Irish.
St. John’s was able to dictate the tempo as the 12th-ranked Red Storm 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.
Kevin Cernuto led the Johnnies on the offensive end with four goals and three assists, which tied a career-high in points. Cernuto recorded his fifth hat trick in his last six games and has accumulated 23 goals and 12 assists on the year. The junior became just the seventh player to score seven or more points against Notre Dame since the start of the 1998 season. The last Red Storm player to put up seven points against Notre Dame and the BIG EAST’s Offensive Player of the Week, Kieran McArdle, turned in another excellent performance with three goals and two assists. McArdle scored all three goals in the second quarter which allowed St. John’s to take control of the game. Colin Keegan scored another two goals which brought the total to nine for the impressive Red Storm attack. Connor Mullen finished with two goals and an assist of his own.
On the defensive side of the field, Jeff Lowman registered 13 saves with nine in the first half, as the senior’s difficult stops deflated the Irish attack. Lowman moved into second on the St. John’s all-time saves list with 582 for his career and is now just four away from breaking the program record. Senior captain Dillon Ayers picked up six groundballs and caused two turnovers as he battled to claim the midfield for St. John’s.
St. John’s now owns the longest winning streak in the BIG EAST as the Red Storm have won four straight, all since Coach Miller shaved his head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The Red Storm improved to 4-1 in road and neutral site games in 2013 and 5-1 in games decided by two goals or less. The Red Storm moved to 2-4 all-time against the Irish and claimed its first victory at Notre Dame.
The Red Storm outshot the Irish 38-36 and won the groundball battle 34-28. St. John’s was very effective in the riding game holding Notre Dame to just 14-of-19 on clears and forced a number of key turnovers.
Sean Rogers scored three goals for the Irish and goalie John Kemp stopped 11 shots.
Jim Marlatt opened the scoring for the Irish after some tough defense from both sides early on, as the junior midfielder beat his man right and bounced one into the net. Mullen took a pretty feed from Cernuto as he cut through the heart of the Irish defense and beat Kemp to tie the score 1-1 with 8:53 left in the first quarter. The Irish regained the lead with a transition effort that was finished off by Sean Rogers from the right side of cage. Cernuto evened the score once again at 2-2 with an unassisted righty run from behind cage and deposited it into the netting. Lowman stopped a pair of point blank looks for the Irish in the first and finished the quarter with six saves.
The Red Storm started the second quarter strong as McArdle found Keith Switzer holding off an Irish defender in front of crease for a score. McArdle then followed up on the ensuing possession with a quick dodge to get inside and beat the goalie for the third-straight Johnnies’ goal. The nation’s leader in points per game struck again with a roll to the left and a bounce shot into the back of the net that put the Red Storm up 5-2 early in the second quarter. Nick Ossello got one back for the Irish to cut the St. John’s lead to 5-3 with 5:25 left in the second quarter. Tyler Kimball scored another unassisted goal for Notre Dame and brought the Irish back within one goal with 2:37 remaining in the first half. With less than a minute left in the half, St. John’s received a man-up opportunity and McArdle took a pass from Mullen and hit an absolute snipe from a difficult left-side angle. The tally put the Red Storm up 6-4 heading into the intermission.
Cernuto kept the Red Storm on the offensive to start the second half as he beat his man and put one past Kemp on the first possession to put St. John’s on top 7-4. The Johnnies remained on the attack as a transition opportunity allowed Cernuto to find a streaking Mullen for the Red Storm’s eighth goal of the afternoon. The Irish would respond with a pair of goals as Steve Murphy and Rogers scored for the Fighting Irish. Cernuto helped kill the Notre Dame momentum with his third goal of the game, as he glided past his man to the left and went low into the net. Unselfish transition lacrosse resulted in the Red Storm’s tenth goal as McArdle passed up an open look and fed an open Keegan who finished with his left to put St. John’s up 10-6 to end the third.
Kimball pulled the Irish within three as he beat Lowman from the outside to bring the score to 10-7 early in the fourth. The Red Storm would take advantage of another transition chance as Keegan dished to Cernuto and the junior faked his way past Kemp to put St. John’s up 11-7. The attackmen would reverse roles on the next position as Cernuto fed Keegan in front of goal and the junior finished increasing the lead to 12-7. Rogers showed some flair with a behind the back goal that also drew a penalty as the Irish pulled within four. St. John’s would kill off the penalty and tighten up on the defensive end until Matt Kavanagh added two more goals to cut the deficit to 12-10 with 56 seconds remaining. Dillon Ayers picked up a crucial groundball on the faceoff which allowed the Red Storm to run out the clock and start the celebration in South Bend.
St. John’s returns to the field next Saturday for the Battle of Bethpage in Bethpage, N.Y. as the Red Storm takes on BIG EAST rival Georgetown at 2 p.m.
Stay up to date with all St. John’s lacrosse news at Redstormsports.com and following the team on Twitter, @STJ_Lacrosse.