St. John's lacrosse huddles up prior to the second half.
April 15, 2017
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QUEENS, N.Y. – Senior Nick Heller and freshman Joe Madsen, the Red Storm’s leading scorers, exploded for nine points and eight goals on Saturday as the St. John’s lacrosse team (1-11, 0-3 BIG EAST) fell, 18-12, to No. 4/4 Denver (9-2, 3-0 BIG EAST) at DaSilva Memorial Field.
Prior to the contest, the seven-man senior class of Dante Addona, Brian Gaffney, Heller, Jack McClellan, Jackson O’Leary, Scott Scannell and Kyle Skramko, were honored with their families in an on-field pregame Senior Day ceremony attended by family, friends, teammates and St. John’s Athletics administrators. Saturday’s game marked the last contest this senior class will play at home as the Red Storm closes out its 2017 campaign with back-to-back BIG EAST road contests.
Madsen scored five goals on the afternoon with a perfect shooting day. The freshman shined on Senior Day as he shot only five times, finding the back of the net with each try. The Locust Valley, N.Y., native continues to lead the Johnnies with his 18 goals and 23 points.
Heller also shined on Senior Day as the midfielder netted a hat trick and added one assist for an impressive four-point afternoon.
Denver’s Connor Cannizzaro, a Tewaaraton Award Watch List member, was kept quiet in the first half but ended the day with five goals of his own and added one assist for a game-high six points.
The Johnnies were also unable to contain Trevor Baptiste, who was named the USILA National Player of the Week this past month, as he won 22-of-29 faceoffs and added 13 groundballs. Baptiste leads NCAA Division I lacrosse with a .753 faceoff winning percentage.
Despite the Red Storm forcing Denver into 10 turnovers, seven caused, the Pioneers controlled the contest winning 24-of-32 faceoffs and topping St. John’s in the groundballs effort, 36-19. As a result Denver outshot St. John’s 41-33, 31-22 on net.
Jason DeBenedictis and Scannell each tallied multi-point days as the duo scored a pair of helpers in addition to DeBenedictis’ one goal. Scannell continues to lead the Red Storm in assists, bringing his season total to 12. O’Leary also enjoyed a two-point day as he scored once himself, assisting on another.
McClellan and Skramko each got in on the scoring fashion, in efforts to celebrate Senior Day properly, as McClellan netted one goal and Skramko added a helper. Addona caused two turnovers and scooped three groundballs during the contest.
Both sides used the first five minutes of the contest to feel each other out, before Denver’s Austin French got the scoring efforts going at the 9:38 mark with a doorstep goal. Heller, celebrating senior day in fine fashion, got the Johnnies on the board with an unassisted 20-yard strike at 6:45, to tie the game at one apiece.
Madsen gave the Johnnies their first lead of the day a few minutes later, after Matt Oehl assisted him at the 3:43 mark on another long and low shot. Denver followed this up with a ferocious run to end the first quarter, scoring four times in the last two minutes including Austin French’s second goal of the opening frame, as Denver ended the quarter with a 5-2 lead.
Denver added two more goals at the start of the second quarter, opening up a 7-2 lead, before St. John’s forced the Pioneers into some sloppy play with four total turnovers, two caused, in the final eight minutes of action. St. John’s used a 4-2 run in the final minutes of the half to cut the Denver lead to 9-6 at halftime.
DeBenedictis scored the first goal of this four-goal run on an assist from Corey Haynes. Haynes used a dodge behind the net before he dished to DeBenedictis straight-on cage and the junior attackman netted it.
Pat Smyth later caused a turnover at the 7:00 mark before the Johnnies brought it back down field and Duffy scored off an O’Leary assist, at the 6:09 mark.
At the end of the half, McClellan found himself in the right place, right time following a Duffy caused turnover behind Denver’s net. The groundball rolled McClellan’s way and with Denver’s goalie scrambling, the senior netted it with just six seconds left and brought the Johnnies to a 9-6 deficit entering the half.
After Heller scored his second goal of the contest at the 11:36 mark of the third quarter, Denver successfully put the Red Storm’s upset efforts out of reach as the Pioneers outscored the Johnnies 8-2 over the next 19 minutes of action. Denver’s Connor Cannizzaro, the BIG EAST’s third-leading goal scorer coming into the game, scored all five of his goals during this run.
Madsen and Heller each added goals in the final minutes of play, thanks to a pair of DeBenedictis assists, bringing their impressive performances to five goals and three goals, respectively. Madsen scored his team-leading 18th goal of the year with nine seconds left in the game, giving the Red Storm a final score of 18-12.
Next Saturday, April 22, St. John’s will travel to Pennsylvania as the Johnnies get set to play in a BIG EAST showdown against Villanova at Villanova Stadium at 4 p.m.
Keep up with Red Storm lacrosse all season long at RedStormSports.com and on Twitter by following @StJohnsLax and using the hashtag “#SJULAX.”