May 5, 2012
Villanova, Pa. -
St. John's (8-7, 3-3) has been rebuilding its lacrosse program since reinstatement in 2005 and a 12-4 loss to perennial power Syracuse (9-7, 3-3) in the BIG EAST Championship at Villanova Stadium on May 5 is another step in that process.
"When we came here six years ago, it was a pretty clear objective to become competitive on the national scene again, and I think by our presence here today you could make a case we were able to accomplish that this year," said head coach Jason Miller. "It's certainly a nice step forward for us. The hard part is nobody feels really good about the way this ends but at this time of year it only ends well for one team, so to be in that discussion is progress for us. The silver lining out of today is that we have a higher bar that we need to try and hit next year."
St. John's totaled the most wins in a season since lacrosse returned to Queens and advanced to the first-ever BIG EAST Championship game. Dillon Ayers, Jeff Lowman and Kieran McArdle were all named to the inaugural BIG EAST Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament Team. D. Ayers and McArdle were also the first two Red Storm players to ever earn first team All-BIG EAST recognition.
McArdle capped off an impressive BIG EAST Tournament with two goals and two assists in the championship game. The first team All-BIG EAST selection recorded points on 11 of the team's 12 goals in the two games at Villanova. The sophomore ended the year with a team-high 60 points (28 goals, 32 assists), the largest total since reinstatement.
Lowman was outstanding all day in net stopping 13 shots against a relentless Syracuse attack. In his two games against the Orange this season, the second team All-BIG EAST goalie recorded 28 saves. The junior finishes the year with 175 saves and ranks fourth all-time at St. John's with 460 in his career. D. Ayers picked up four groundballs and tied a season-high with three caused turnovers.
St. John's struggled early against the Orange attack falling behind 7-0 in the first half. Bobby Eilers recorded two goals and Tommy Palasek totaled two goals and two assists to pace Syracuse. The Red Storm had 13 first half shots but struggled to find good looks against the Orange defense. Penalties also plagued St. John's as Syracuse scored two man-up goals on four attempts in the opening thirty minutes.
It was the first time St. John's had been shutout in the first half since last year's 9-4 loss to Stony Brook on March 15.
A man-up goal by Luke Cometti to begin the second half gave Syracuse an 8-0 lead. McArdle broke the drought for the Red Storm as he fought through the defense from behind cage and went full extension in front of crease. The sophomore then scored on the man-up as Harry Kutner fed him near goal and McArdle connected from a tough side angle. Down 8-2 with 10:43 to play in the third, St. John's couldn't fully swing the momentum as both teams remained scoreless until Billy Ward put the Orange up 9-2 with 1:25 left in the period. Lowman stopped seven shots in the quarter including a sequence of back to back shots straight in front of net.
Kutner tallied St. John's second man-up goal of the game as he took a pass from McArdle and beat goalie Bobby Wardwell five-hole to shrink the lead to 9-3. Three straight Orange goals; however, put the game out of reach for the Red Storm as Syracuse led 12-3 with 6:04 to play. Kevin Cernuto added the final goal of the Red Storm season with an assist from McArdle to bring the final total to 12-4.
The graduating class of seniors, Terence Leach, Matt Hurst, Charlie Holenstein, Kutner, Harrison Freid, Mark Jackson Jr. and Jon Muscarella re-shaped a program that won two games in 2008 and led the Red Storm to an appearance in the first-ever BIG EAST Lacrosse Championship. The group amassed the most wins by any class since the program returned in 2005.
Keep up with Red Storm lacrosse all season long at RedStormSports.com and on Twitter by following @STJ_Lacrosse.